Carpathian countries commit to action on climate change, agriculture and forest protection
At the Fifth Conference of the Parties of the Carpathian Convention in Lillafuered, Hungary, representatives of the seven Parties to the Convention, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia, committed to take action on climate change, agriculture and forest protection, among other issues.
A new Article to the Convention recognises the particular vulnerability of the Carpathians, like other mountain regions, to climate change. The article commits the Parties to the Convention to take action to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gases while at the same time taking action to adapt to impacts of climate change that is already happening, e.g. by taking into account climate change in decisionmaking on planning and development.
The Protocol on Agriculture and Rural Development signed by representatives of the seven Parties to the Convention pledged to work together to address the complex social, economic and environmental challenges related to agriculture and rural development. The Carpathian region includes rich cultural landscapes and traditions that have developed over centuries of human settlement and cultivation, and that are threatened by changing lifestyles and patterns of land use. The Protocol joins existing protocols on Sustainable Forest Management, Biodiversity, Transport, Cultural Heritage and Tourism.
With regard to forests, the countries recognised progress made in identifying and protecting virgin and old growth forests. They also noted the problem of illegal logging and committed to take action. The Carpathian Mountains are home to many of Europe’s greatest forest areas, including the largest area of virgin and old growth forests outside of Russia and northern Scandinavia.
“Progress has been made in recent years to protect Carpathian forests, which are among the most valuable in Europe. Nevertheless, substantial threats remain, both from legal and illegal logging – so it is important that the governments of the Carpathian countries and relevant stakeholders remain committed to addressing these problems, as once gone we will lose these unique and valuable habitats forever,” said Andreas Beckmann, regional director of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme.
In their decisions, the Parties to the Convention recognised a number of initiatives driven by WWF in support of the Convention, including efforts to promote green infrastructure, to address conflicts between transport and ecological corridors as well as human-wildlife conflicts. WWF has also played an active role in supporting the development and implementation of the Protocol on Forest Protection and Sustainable Management.
The Ministerial session on Thursday focused on the future of the Carpathians. Visions for the future offered by WWF-DCP regional director Andreas Beckmann and young people from across the Carpathians provided a backdrop for reflections by ministers and state secretaries on future development, challenges and opportunities of the mountain region.
The Carpathian Convention is one of the key policy frameworks and platforms for the work of WWF in Central and Southeastern Europe. WWF has been an official observer and close supporter of the Convention particularly with regard to biodiversity, green infrastructure and ecological corridors, protected areas, forest protection and management, climate change adaptation as well as transportation and environmental education.