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Author: Priscila Jordão

New Horizon project WILDCARD reveals contribution of rewilding to EU’s climate and biodiversity goals

All over Europe, nature is making a comeback. As more people move to cities and other land use changes occur, the EU’s forest area is growing, having increased by almost 10% (+14 million hectares) between 1990 and 2020. On top of that, a total of 10-29 million hectares of agricultural land are likely to be abandoned between 2000 and 2030. This leaves potential for native flora, fauna and complex ecosystems to reclaim space, bringing natural ‘rewilding’ to the center of Europe’s environmental policy discussions.

Understanding how rewilding can contribute to solving the climate and biodiversity crises is crucial for the successful implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the EU Nature Restoration Law, and the EU Green Deal – a mission to be tackled by the new Horizon Europe project WILDCARD. Starting in January 2024, the project is, for the first time, systematically assessing the impacts of two major rewilding approaches on carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation at the European scale. Currently, a lack of comprehensive research on the topic prevents rewilding from being fully integrated into Europe’s strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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Training argumentation and critical thinking skills in a role-play about forests

How can students develop skills such as argumentation and critical thinking? The Umeå University is investigating the topic using learning materials around forest use and forest protection as part of the MULTIPLIERS project

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How can the EU double its forests’ climate change mitigation impact by 2050? New Horizon Europe project INFORMA to provide answers

Forests can act as carbon sinks or emitters, as made clear by this summer’s catastrophic forest fires that ravaged southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula. The devastating events following August’s record heatwave resulted in Europe’s highest wildfire emissions in 15 years. Only in the region of Valencia, Spain, the fires released more than 1 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual emissions of all private cars in the three capital cities of the province: Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.

Although climate change played a major role in the catastrophe, the fires were aggravated by rural exodus, which led to the abandonment of forest management in the area and to the accumulation of flammable vegetation, explains José Vicente Oliver, professor at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV).

In cooperation with EFI, Oliver and his team are looking for ways to prepare the EU’s forests for future climate scenarios and realise their full carbon absorption potential by mainstreaming Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) into more conventional management practices. In the new Horizon Europe project INFORMA, EFI, UPV and other partners are tackling crucial questions around SFM that remain partially unanswered by science, unaddressed by policies and unexplored by most carbon offsetting schemes. How can we manage existing forests in different European biogeographic regions for enhanced carbon capture while ensuring the provision of other ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation and wood production? Where and how should we grow new forests, and which species should be used? How can we adapt and increase forests’ resilience to more frequent disturbances such as drought, fires, windstorms and pests?

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SUPERB & IUFRO 1st Forest Restoration Talk with John Stanturf: “If nature is the solution, what is the problem?”

You are invited to take part in our new “Monthly Forest Restoration Talks”, hosted by the SUPERB project in partnership with IUFRO‘s Task Force ‘Transforming Forest Landscapes for Future Climates and Human Well-Being’.

Targeting researchers, practitioners, NGOs, policy makers and other interested stakeholders, the webinar series will investigate forest restoration questions from diverse scientific perspectives, with alternating focus on the global and European levels. This includes exploring practical forest restoration approaches, experiences and challenges worldwide.

Taking place on Wednesday, 9 November from 16:00-17:30 CET, the first webinar features forest restoration specialist John Stanturf as a speaker, discussing the topic “If nature is the solution, what is the problem? A perspective from forest landscape restoration”.

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“Forest restoration needs to look ahead, not backwards, in face of climate change”: An interview with SUPERB coordinator Elisabeth Pötzelsberger on World Habitat Day

This 3rd of October is World Habitat Day! To celebrate the occasion, Elisabeth Pötzelsberger, Head of Resilience Programme at the European Forest Institute (EFI) and coordinator of the SUPERB project, explained the importance of “prestoration” – the combination of restoration and climate adaptation – for resilient and functional forest habitats. She discussed how it differs from classical restoration approaches, highlighted its relevance to the new EU Nature Restoration Law and listed concrete examples of how prestoration is being applied within the SUPERB demonstration areas in Germany and in the Czech Republic.

Watch the video interview on YouTube or read it below!

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9 take-home messages from the SUPERB Governance Innovation Lab

Forest governance is a complex topic, and we are living in complex times. A quick analysis of the EU and global policy environment in 2022 results in an intricate puzzle of overlapping but also contradicting sectoral policies in the fields of agriculture, energy, climate and environment that are relevant to forests. National and municipal forest strategies and plans add another layer of intricacy to the equation. And that’s not to mention the many ecosystem service demands by society that often compete at the local level! 

To unravel the complexity of the topic and work out different perceptions of governance challenges in forest restoration, researchers and practitioners gathered at the SUPERB Governance Innovation Lab, hosted by project partner Prospex Institute in Opatija, Croatia, between 27-29 June. There, participants exchanged innovative local and regional approaches to forest governance, discussed how these could apply to SUPERB’s large-scale demos, and created first synergies with partners outside the project consortium. 

For those who missed the event, we from EFI have compiled a list of 9 take-home messages from the Governance Lab: 

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SUPERB forest restoration journey comes to life with the launch of new project website

Funded by the European Commission to promote large-scale forest restoration in support of the EU Green Deal, the new Horizon 2020 project SUPERB, coordinated by EFI, has created quite a buzz on social media since its beginning in December 2021. With 36 consortium members, 90 associated partners, €20 million in EU funds and €90 million in in-kind contributions, SUPERB is likely to be the largest transnational forest restoration project globally.

Now, the enormous wealth of knowledge that will be generated by SUPERB’s restoration experts, as well as the latest updates on its multifold restoration activities, can be accessed online all in one place at forest-restoration.eu.

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How to create a new European science-policy-society interface for forests and forestry? Uncomfortable knowledge might help

Are scientists and policymakers getting too comfortable when generating and applying forest-related data and knowledge? What conditions can take them out of their comfort zones to generate more interdisciplinary research and policies that are both legitimate and representative? The politics of knowledge around forests was a topic of heated debate at this year’s International Forest Policy Meeting (27-29 April 2022), with the session on “Science-Policy-Society interactions within Europe ending with a provocative call for the production and use of so-called “uncomfortable knowledge”.

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