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EU Ministers of Environment Discuss Relationship between Biodiversity and Climate Change

The priorities of the Slovenian Presidency in the field of the environment are combating climate change and caring for biodiversity, and today's informal meeting was an opportunity for the synthesis of both, said Janez Podobnik, President of the EU Environment Council and Slovenian Minister of the Environment. The topic of the meeting coincides with important EU decisions in the context of the climate and energy package.

In the past, Europe has been seriously affected by forest fires and storms, which can also cause the loss of human lives and property, as well as great environmental damage. Healthy and sustainably managed forests represent a valuable opportunity for mitigation in the fight against climate change, through the provision of vital environmental services. The Minister therefore outlined to the other ministers the centuries-long experience of good forest management in Slovenia.

“The forest management field gave us the Slovenian term for 'sustainable', whose present meaning also implies management in a way conserving biodiversity, as well as combating famine and poverty,” said Minister Podobnik.

The role forests play is therefore crucial. They have an important role in stabilising climate change on land and in water, as well as regulating local weather phenomena. Climate change impacts on forests are different, while forests are also threatened by storms and fires.

Considering the current debates on sustainable criteria for biofuels, Minister Podobnik noted that at present, in order to establish criteria, an intensive expert discussion is being held at the level of the ad hoc working group of the Council. “It is our wish for the criteria to be precise, universal and provable, while they should not exclude competitiveness,” emphasised Minister Podobnik at the press conference. Regarding the open issues raised in the current debate at the level of the ad hoc working group, namely the question of greenhouse gas savings and inclusion of social criteria, Minister Podobnik said that the debate held at Brdo addressed only the criteria of biodiversity protection.


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Date: 14.04.2008