Some 17 million hectares of forests disappear every year and it is currently estimated that 80% of forests have been felled worldwide.
The Assembly points out that forest habitats and biodiversity are vital elements of a properly functioning biosphere. Forests play a crucial part in stabilising the global climate, by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and helping to reduce CO2 levels.
Forests are also particularly important in stemming the process of desertification. They prevent soil erosion and help to regulate water regimes and local weather phenomena.
Climate change is a major threat to the long-term sustainability of forests. It has an impact on forest productivity and puts greater stress on water resources, while intensifying desertification processes and heightening the risks of storms and fires. The forest fires, floods, droughts and storms which have begun having a serious impact on our continent provide clear evidence of the human and material consequences climate change can have on the environment.
Healthy, sustainably managed forests are valuable tools for mitigating and combating climate change.
Forests are key renewable resources in terms of energy and raw materials.
Deforestation is a major international challenge, inter alia, because of its impact on climate change, as recognised at the Bali Conference for the post-Kyoto period.
Forests can be used as sources of biomass and also as sustainable sources of second-generation biofuels. Such use must not, however, jeopardise their multifunctional nature or undermine their ecological stability.
The Assembly therefore urges Council of Europe member and non-member states to analyse the situation of forests and take the necessary measures to make sure that they are used sustainably and their multifunctional role is preserved in the long term.