Europe Flunks Forestry Review
According to a new World Wide Fund report on European forestry - "not one European country treats its forests outstandingly well. Out of a total maximum score of 100, even the highest scoring country, Switzerland, scores only 62. The average score is 51. This is too low."
The WWF European Forest Scorecards 2000 issued most European countries failing marks in forest care and use in a December 1999 survey administered by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The entire report can be downloaded at the WWF site.
Switzerland ranked highest of the 19 countries graded but scored only 62 points out of a possible 100. Denmark was the worst country, scoring only 36 points. The average score of 19 report cards was a failing 51 points.
Fund researchers evaluated forestry performance of selected countries in five broad areas: forestry production, environmental care and quality, social and cultural aspects of forest care, protected areas and pollution. The report concluded that air pollution, soil erosion, and destruction of forest habitats led to most of the bad scoring.
"Europe must treat its forests better. Every country must make a determined effort to improve its care for our forests. Governments must take responsibility for implementing commitments they already have made" stated WWF officials. This commitment refers to agreements entered into at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and at the 1993 Helsinki Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests.
These same officials went on to blame foresters for not allowing dead wood to rot in the forest, suggesting this is the prime reason for the destruction of vital habitat for plants and animals. They reported that forest managers tended to be "tidier than nature likes, removing dead and hollow trees, fallen branches and the like. In doing so, they condemn many wood-dwelling species to homelessness."
The report goes on to report that eastern Europe, in some cases, performs considerably better than its western counterparts in protecting and caring for its forests. Poland and Slovakia, for example, performed much better than France and Germany. Similarly, Mediterranean countries scored as well as, and sometimes even better than, more affluent northern European countries.
"There is too much focus on wood products and very little interest in the use of non-wood products," researchers note in an introduction to the fund's 100-page report. "The emphasis seems to be on quantity of wood produced rather than quality."
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