Forest biodiversity has been a controversial topic at the international level, yet forests have been a priority issue for many governments and organizations.
Forests have been on the international political agenda since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a result of intensive negotiations, governments agreed to the Non-legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of all Types of Forests, also known as the “Forest Principles."
Since this meeting, considerable progress has been made regarding forest biodiversity, with several international meetings being held and numerous processes being created. For example, the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) is a political initiative involving 40 European countries as well as the European Community. The MCPFE promotes the protection and sustainable management of forests in Europe.
Climate change has resulted in considerable attention being devoted to forests. As forests act both as a carbon sink and are likely to be greatly affected by climate change, they have become a growing issue of consideration for many governments and organizations.
The Convention on Biological Diversity addresses forests directly through the expanded programme of work on forest biodiversity (annex to COP 6 Decision VI/22), adopted in 2002 by the Conference of the Parties at its sixth meeting. The forest work programme constitutes a broad set of goals, objectives and activities aimed at the conservation of forest biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable use of the benefits arising from the utilization of forest genetic resources. The programme of work on forest biodiversity consists of three elements:
(i) conservation, sustainable use and benefit-sharing,
(ii) institutional and socio-economic enabling environment,
(iii) knowledge, assessment, and monitoring.