European countries neglecting their forestsBrussels, Belgium - WWF, the conservation organisation, today announced that in Europe Switzerland takes the best care of its forests - followed by Finland, Sweden, Austria and Slovakia. WWF warned that all European countries must take much better care of their forests. At the bottom of WWF's European Forest Scorecards rankings of 20 countries surveyed is Denmark.
Top-ranked Switzerland scored 62 out of a possible 100 points, and Finland 61. Sweden, Austria and Slovakia are joint third. Wealth and supposed environmental awareness is no guarantee of good forest care - Germany and France have similar scores to those achieved by eastern neighbours Poland, and Mediterranean countries like Spain and Turkey.
"European countries are neglecting their forests," said Per Rosenberg, Head of WWF's European Forest Programme. "Even the highest scoring country, Switzerland, only achieves 62 out of 100. The average score is 51. This is far too low. All countries have serious improvements to make in many areas of forest care."
Among the problems that need tackling in many countries are:
� lack of semi-natural or undisturbed forest,
� insufficient amount of protected forest,
� amount of pesticides and herbicides being used on forests,
� failure to leave dead wood in the forest, a vital habitat for many animals and plants.
WWF European Forest Scorecards are based on international and regional agreements signed by European nations. They are made up of 99 separate elements covering a wide range of issues including timber and other production, environmental care and quality, social and cultural aspects of forest care, protected areas and pollution. WWF European Forest Scorecards are unique in providing comparable information on how Europe treats its forests.
"Forests are a unique and precious natural resource" commented Per Rosenberg. "If cared for wisely, forests will offer jobs, recreation, timber, water and natural heritage for the millennium ahead. But Europe is not caring for its forests wisely. Action is needed now."
For further information and full Scorecard results and analysis:
Julian Scola, Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office, tel.: +32 2 743 8806, or on the Scorecards website