On Thursday evening in New York, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Strategic Plan for Forests. The German government welcomes this step – Germany was one of the countries that had lobbied for a global forest strategy. Christian Schmidt, Germany’s agriculture minister, said: "When the international community talks about forests, then we are usually focusing on forest destruction or illegal logging. I am pleased that the United Nations is now also putting sustainable forest management in the spotlight. Good management enhances the tremendous eco-system services that forests provide. This is an opportunity not to be overlooked."
The Strategic Plan will lay the groundwork for linking the various international activities concerned with forests more closely together. The aim is to achieve sustainable management of the planet’s forests so that they can be preserved in the long term. It is intended that the Strategic Plan will contribute to the international sustainability, biodiversity and climate protection goals that have already been agreed. For Germany, the Strategic Plan now adopted by the United Nations offers significant guidance for the way ahead. "Forests have enormous potential to benefit humankind and, so far, very little use has been made of their potential,” said Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks, emphasising that “integrating measures for the preservation and the sustainable management of forests in a coordinated approach will be a huge step forward." This coming week the next meeting of the UN Forum on Forests will take place in New York. On the agenda is making a start on the ambitious implementation of the Strategic Plan. German development minister Gerd Müller underlined the international significance of the Plan. "Without plants there is no life, without forests no air to breathe. Protecting forests – especially tropical rain forests – is an international development task. Germany is ready to shoulder its share of the responsibility and will not leave the people living in developing countries alone with the task of protecting the forests." Work on the UN Strategic Plan for Forests began back in 2015. The German government, represented at that time by Federal Minister Christian Schmidt, was a strong advocate for an agreement on international standards for sustainable forest management, more coherence and reciprocal reinforcement of the various international initiatives.
The German government actively supports all important international processes relating to matters of forest management and also wants to set a good example at home. The activities of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the initiatives of the Environment Ministry (BMUB) and German development cooperation measures organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) are coordinated here. This means, for example, processes for forest conservation such as those agreed as part of climate negotiations, afforestation, efforts to combat illegal logging and measures to ensure deforestation-free supply chains for agricultural produce.
Just under four billion hectares of land – 30 per cent of the planet’s surface – is still covered by forests. Forests are a unique, multi-talented and valuable ecosystem. They play an extremely important role in safeguarding the resource base needed to sustain human and all other life on earth. They are also a vital source of raw materials. The multitude of eco-system services they provide for the soil, for water, for food, for the economy, for biodiversity, for protecting and for recreation are essential for sustainable development.