The FME began in 1989 when a group of NGOs from several European countries joined efforts to stop Japanese companies’ destruction of rainforests. They originally met under the heading ‘Ban Japan from the Rainforest’.
By 1992 the group had expanded considerably in size and in the issues it dealt with. Its focus was no longer Japanese companies, but tropical rainforests and support for forest peoples in general. At a meeting in Munich, Germany, the group renamed itself the European Rainforest Movement, the European arm of the World Rainforest Movement. We decided to remain a loose movement with no formal membership or secretariat. Meetings were held twice a year, hosted by one of the participating groups and coordinated by Saskia Ozinga.
Activities of the groups participating in the European Rainforest Movement helped forest peoples’ struggle in places such as Sarawak, Malaysia and the Amazon become headline stories. They also helped European tropical rainforest campaigns to take off, thereby reducing tropical timber imports into several European countries.
In 1992, environmental organisations in the boreal forests began to look outside for help to protect the Taiga. Taiga Rescue Network was formed and groups working on the boreal forests joined the European Rainforest Movement. This decision to focus efforts beyond rainforests led in 1994 to the current name, Forest Movement Europe. A year later Saskia Ozinga co-founded Fern after the FME agreed we needed an organisation that would monitor what the EU was doing on forests, explain it to NGOs and coordinate NGO input.
Over the decades that followed, the FME has helped incubate numerous cross-organisational campaigns, helped share information about key upcoming threats to forests and been the venue for the creation of what was originally the European Environmental Paper Network (EPN) and is now Environmental Paper Network International.