There have now been annual "Europa stamps" for more than 55 years. Following the pattern established in 1956 by the six member countries of the then European Coal and Steel Community (Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), every year a steadily growing number of European postal administrations all issue a stamp on a common theme. Originally these stamps shared the same face design, but every year since 1973 a theme for the year has been set which each country then interprets individually.
This year's theme for the 49 member countries grouped together in the European organization of public postal operators "PostEurop" is "Forests" - in line with the UNO, which has declared 2011 the "International Year of Forests". This is intended to focus attention on one of the world's most important ecosystems. Forests supply the renewable resource timber, protect against natural hazards, provide a habitat for plants and animals and serve as an important recreational space for people.
Liechtenstein is a country which benefits notably from its forests - after all, its forested area makes up 43% of its whole land surface. Many of its forests, some of them in very steep locations, act as protective barriers against natural hazards such as avalanches, rockfall and land erosion (mudflows). The State of Liechtenstein therefore does its utmost to maintain the forests as a biological protection system, partly so that future generations can benefit from the forests as a popular place for relaxation.
Liechtenstein's "Europa stamp 2011" is the work of Schaanwald artist Louis Jager. The subject of his design, in which a tree represents the source of an entire forest, is the forest as an ecosystem.