FLEG II regional conference in Joensuu, Finland contributed to sharing of best practices and lessons learned for improvement of forest governance, in order to promote sustainable and diversified use of forest resources.
The event, “Sustainable Diversified Use of Forest: Legislation and Governance, Challenges and Solutions” was organized on 18-19 May in partnership with the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and the European Forest Institute (EFI).
Forest management authorities, forest sector business companies, academia and non-profit organizations from Finland and European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) East countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia participated in the event.
They discussed relevant issues of sustainable multi-purpose forest use, in particular constraints to its successful development and possible solutions. Among the most common problems is the traditional perception of forests only as a source of timber, and imperfections of forest legislation.
“The conference showed that one perfect approach to forest management doesn’t exist”, says Nikolay Shmatkov, head of WWF-Russia forest program and country FLEG II coordinator for WWF-Russia. “Forests have different purposes. In some, it is more about timber production, in others, it is important to give opportunities for small businesses to collect mushrooms and berries and develop tourism. And pristine forest ecosystems must be saved in their original state. We need very flexible legislation that can take into account local peculiarities and can allow different stakeholders to contribute to forest management decisions”.
“Participants not only shared their own experience, but also learned about the modern practices in Europe, where countries have been diversifying forest use for a while now, by improving legislation and its enforcement”, said Dr. Elena Kulikova from European Forest Institute.
In particular, the participants went on a field trip, which included visits to a Finnish centers of production of wines, liqueurs and spirits from forest berries, and Eno Energy Cooperative, a great example of using of low value wood for production of bioenergy to get benefits for forestry and local economy.
The conference in Joensuu became a platform for exchange of experience between leading experts, business, scientists and government officials, which facilitates understanding of economic and non-financial gains of non-timber forest use, and contributes to saving and multiplying forest ecological and social values.