null Joint Statement of Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and His Deputy on International Day of Forests

Dr. Ákos Kozma, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and Dr. Gyula Bándi, Deputy Commissioner for the Interests of Future Generations call attention to the importance of sustainable forest management in their joint statement issued on the International Day of Forests.

The UN General Assembly declared 21 March the International Day of Forests, focusing on commemorating the importance of forests and trees all over the world.

Forests are the most complex ecological systems of mainlands; they are so much more than the sum of the trees they are composed of. Forests are self-regulating environmental systems capable of regenerating themselves – one of the basic conditions to human life. Thanks to the numerous ecosystem services provided by them, forests are key natural resources. It is enough to think about the role played by forests in oxygen production, carbon capture, the mitigation of the effects of climate change, the protection of biodiversity, soil protection, the ensurance of drinking water supplies, the regulation of micro-climate and recreation, or to remind ourselves that trees are conditionally renewable raw materials and energy resources, and we will immediately understand the vast significance of protecting our forests and their conscious and careful management. Forests are home to 60,000 different tree species, 80% of amphibious species, 75% of bird species and 68% of mammal species of the world. Forests have a tremendous impact on human life: the healthier forest ecosystems are, the healthier the planet is itself – along with its inhabitants, including humans.

Due to the above, the state and the entire society have a vested interest in preserving and protecting forests: their economic, protective and public welfare services should be available to all people. Therefore, forests may only be used in a way that is regulated in harmony with public interest.

In its enumeration of the elements of our shared natural heritage, Article P) of the Fundamental Law of Hungary mentions forests specifically; and that it shall be the obligation of the state and everyone to protect and maintain them, and to preserve them for future generations. According to that, in practice, certain obligations apply to forest owners and forest managers, and even to those who use forests freely.

Moreover, sustainable forest management and the low-impact exploitation of forest resources also play a key role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  We must strive to apply methods ensuring that forests can preserve their biological diversity, naturalness, productivity, viability and regenerative capacity, and that they satisfy the protective, public welfare and economic requirements that are line with social needs. Forests must be utilized in such a manner and at such a rate that management opportunities are preserved for future generations as well. In our environment that is rapidly deteriorating due to climate change, it is quintessential that we critically and repeatedly review our practices used in the past and present, adjusting them to the carrying capacity of our planet – and this is especially true to the way we treat forests.

Forests are too valuable to lose, so let us safeguard them together responsibly.