I am very proud to be able to introduce to you The Condition of Forests in Europe: 2012 Executive Report of the International Co-operative Programme on the Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests (ICP Forests). Poland hosted the Programme's Task Force Meeting in 2012 and has operated the forest monitoring programme since 1989.
This report is the result of a collective undertaking by 42 countries that acknowledge forests as a necessary and desirable part of the landscape, and forest sustainability as the key feature in protecting biological diversity, mitigating climate change effects and providing the source of renewable goods and services. All this underlines the great importance of the ICP Forests monitoring programme; the only programme in Europe devoted entirely to forest condition evaluation and complex analyses of ecosystem functioning at the level of the continent.
The ICP Forests monitoring programme was initiated over 25 years ago in a response to the growing fears of large-scale forest dieback related to air pollution. Since then, the programme has undergone considerable development enabling the system not only to detect changes in forest condition over space and time but also to addess questions related to the cause-effect relationship between environmental drivers such as climate, pollution and atmospheric deposition, and forest growth, biological diversity, and the stability and health status of forests. The following report is an excellent example of the type of information we now have about the European forests. Today, the ICP Forests monitoring programme involves over 7000 extensive Level I plots, several hundred Level II and intensive monitoring plots, a team of around 300 scientists and forestry experts, supported by tens of analytical laboratories, and a network of collaborating institutions in all European countries. Harmonized methodology for data collection and the use of quality assurance procedures are another feature of the programme, that provides policy-relevant forest information at the regional, national and international levels.
Europe and the European Union in particular need reliable, sound and policy-relevant forest information now and in the future. To ensure the continued delivery of this vital information, a firm and stable financial framework is required with a long-term perspective. Poland supports the efforts undertaken in this matter by the European Commission and Member States.
I would like to thank everyone involved en the ICP Forests monitoring programme for their efforts to keep this programme running and wish you all continued sucess in the future.