Europe Ministers throw away another chance to save the ancient forests.

Press release - 29 April, 2003
European Ministers prepare to end their two day meeting on the Protection of Forests in Europe, Greenpeace expressed its outrage that once again a great opportunity was missed by the regions leaders to save the quickly diminishing European forests.

The Declaration of Vienna, which today will be signed by European ministers, fails to reach the objective of the conference-to protect forests in Europe-because it fails to stop the dramatic loss of forest biodiversity and does little toward preserving the last remaining ancient forests and high conservation value forests. The ministers stressed the importance of sustainable forest management, but lacked the vision to realise that sustainable forest management alone cannot save the forests.

"Real action for concrete protection is missing from this declaration. The ministers have not fulfilled their job; as I speak, ancient forests continue to be logged in Finland," said Oliver Salge, Greenpeace forest campaigner in Vienna. "The urgently needed network of protected forest areas has not become a reality here today. Because logging of the last Scandinavian ancient forests is on going, the papers from Vienna remain useless."

Greenpeace is calling on European governments to protect all remaining ancient forests in Europe as well as forests with high conservation value by working beyond sustainable management and implementing real protection of forest areas where logging and other destructive activities are not allowed and to take concrete measures that fulfil the obligations to the forests by implementing the Work Programme on Forests which was signed at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in The Hague in April 2002.

During Monday morning's opening events in Vienna, Greenpeace activists dressed in large life-like tree costumes staged a symbolic action to remind the ministers attending this conference of what is at stake. Activists displayed a banner that read: European governments, save our last ancient forests.

Greenpeace is campaigning to protect the world's remaining ancient forests by supporting ecologically sustainable and socially responsible forest use and the establishment of protected areas. Protected forest areas are dedicated to the conservation of their biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources and are established and managed respecting traditional land rights, particularly those of indigenous peoples. These are protected from roadbuilding and industrial activities.