News

First Meeting of the ECE/FAO Team of Specialists on Boreal Forests

02.11.2020

The first online meeting was held on 21 October 2020. The goal of the meeting was to:

(a) Elect the leadership of the team;

(b) Discuss the future plan of activities.

A lot of work preceded the creation of the UNECE/FAO Team of Specialists (ToS) on Boreal Forests. Since 2012, six countries (Russia, Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland and Norway) of the boreal region have been in dialogue to strengthen cooperation, which culminated in the establishment of the Circumboreal working group (CWG) in 2013. The CWG has been active through joint scientific missions, country reports, thematic studies and a bioeconomy working group. A high-level science/policy dialogue was held in 2018 in Haparanda, Sweden, in order to plan for formalizing the cooperation. The Haparanda Ministerial Declaration on Circumboreal Cooperation on Forests, adopted on 26 June 2018, recognizes that countries across the circumboreal region face similar challenges and opportunities, with significant benefits to be gained from increased research cooperation and knowledge sharing to address complex boreal forest issues.

The Haparanda Ministerial Declaration paved the way for the establishment of a UNECE/FAO ToS on Boreal Forests, which was formally approved by the UNECE Executive Committee in December 2019.

The UNECE/FAO ToS on Boreal Forests aims to:

  1. contribute to science and policy cooperation on boreal forests, while reducing duplication of efforts and encouraging the pursuit of cost-effective approaches for circumboreal cooperation;
  2. increase collaboration with the International Boreal Forest Research Association (IBFRA) and other boreal-related research organizations, in order to strengthen science and policy cooperation with regards to the boreal biome;
  3. improve awareness and understanding of the role boreal forests play in global issues such as climate change and the bioeconomy, as well as in addressing the challenges reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and
  4. advise the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section on any matters related to boreal forests within the integrated programme of work.

During a preparatory informal meeting of the ToS that was held virtually on 23 April 2020, newly elected members were asked to identify key challenges facing boreal forests, to assess the needs in terms of data, policy recommendations, and other tools that could help address some of those challenges, and to discuss what activities the ToS could focus on in this context. All participating boreal countries submitted fact sheets in order to highlight some common concerns, policy responses, ecosystem characteristics etc.

The following themes were identified as central concerns:

  • Lack of awareness and understanding of the role boreal forests play in global issues such as climate change and the bioeconomy;
  • The boreal forest ecosystems vulnerability to climate change;
  • The development of a forest-based bioeconomy (incl. indigenous and rural communities).

The following tools and policies were identified as important in helping to address these challenges:

  • Increased collaboration on interdisciplinary research;
  • Communication to counter misinformation;
  • Development of coherent strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation.

The delegation of the Federal Forestry Agency took part in first meeting of the ECE/FAO ToS on Boreal Forests, including representatives of the Northern Research Institute of Forestry (SevNIIILH) such as Natalia Demidova, Deputy Director for Science, and Aleksey Ilintsev, research fellow.

All information regarding the work of the ToS can be found here: www.unece.org/forests/boreal-tos

Upcoming conferences and other relevant events, which might be of interest to the ToS to participate in:

  1. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the International Boreal Forest Research Association (IBFRA) announce the next international IBFRA conference entitled A Changing Boreal Biome: Assessing the vulnerability and resilience of boreal ecosystems to climate change, and their socio-economic implications. The conference will be held August 16-20, 2021 in Fairbanks Alaska, USA. (https://sites.google.com/alaska.edu/ibfra2021/home-page).
  2. The XV World Forestry Congress Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests will be hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea from 24 to 28 May 2021 and held at the COEX Convention and Exhibition Center in Seoul (https://wfc2021korea.org)
  3. International events organized by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) (https://www.iufro.org/events/calendar/current)