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Category: European Union

Sustaining cities, naturally – across 3 continents

The role of cities in the light of the health of people and the planet alike, is undeniably crucial. While cities only make up about 2% of terrestrial areas, more than 50% of the World’s population is already living in cities (Pincetl, 2017). This trend of urbanization is expected to continue to grow into a staggering 65% of the world population living in cities by 2040 (weforum, 2019).  

While poorly planned urbanization can lead to societal challenges such as social deprivation, climate change, deteriorating health and increasing pressure on urban nature, urban ecosystem restoration can contribute to lessen these challenges, through for example implementing nature-based solutions (NBS). Research by the ISGlobal drastically illustrated this: An increase in overall greenness in cities could prevent up to almost 43.000 deaths in European cities every year (ISGlobal, 2021).
On Thursday and Friday, the 13th and 14th of October the webinar “Sustaining Cities, Naturally” focused precisely on these topics: NBS and urban ecosystem restoration. The webinar was jointly organized by four Horizon 2020 projects: INTERLACECONEXUSREGREEN and CLEARING HOUSE as an official side-event of the The European Week of Regions and Cities 2022. By bringing together cities, regions and local authorities, city network representatives, policy makers, researchers, civil society and experts on NBS and urban ecosystem restoration, the webinar was a showcase example of international cooperation in knowledge creation and exchange. With a total of 333 participants on Thursday and 571 on Friday as well as 29 speakers, NBS and urban ecosystems restoration in Europe, China and Latin America were discussed in depth and from various perspectives.  

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New policy brief: How agricultural commodity trader responses can influence the effectiveness of the new EU deforestation proposal  

Have you ever thought about how the consumption of some of our favourite products can be linked to deforestation? Or how political decisions and policies can influence such linkages? The EU consumes significant amounts of products made from agricultural commodities, such as cocoa, palm oil, and soy, and the related agricultural expansion of these commodities causes vast forest loss in countries of production in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Various trading companies operate supply chains across the globe and move the products to Europe for our consumption, making them important actors in controlling forest loss linked to agricultural products. In the coming years, new EU regulations will set increased obligations for traders in order to reduce EU market-driven forest loss. However, it is not sure how traders will react to the new regulations and how their decisions could influence the impact of the EU regulation to limit EU market-driven deforestation. 

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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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Upcoming webinar: “Climate change mitigation meets biodiversity conservation in Europe – two sides of the same coin?”

How are climate change adaptation and mitigation linked to forest biodiversity conservation in the EU’s forests, and what are the major trade offs and synergies?  What are the…

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Die Neue Europäische Waldstrategie – Bevormundung oder eine Vision für alle?

Nachhaltige Waldbewirtschaftung durch Flächenprämien fördern, die Holzernte nur noch innerhalb von Nachhaltigkeitsgrenzen durchführen und finanzielle Unterstützung für besondere Umweltleistungen garantieren – dies sind nur einige Punkte der neuen europäischen Waldstrategie für 2030, die schon in ihrem Entstehungsprozess in Deutschland und auch in vielen anderen europäischen Ländern kontrovers diskutiert wurde. Die Waldstrategie für 2030 wurde vor Kurzem von der EU-Kommission als eine der Leitinitiativen des europäischen „Green Deal“ auf den Weg gebracht. Sie hat das Ziel, die vielfältigen Funktionen der Wälder miteinzubeziehen, auch in Referenz zur EU-Biodiversitätsstrategie für 2030.

Während Umweltschützer*innen den zu großen Einfluss der Holzwirtschaft und der nationalen Regierungen bemängeln, der in den Augen eines manchen ein „weich gespültes Papier“ zum Resultat hat, entgegnen andere, die Strategie ginge zu weit: Besonders Förster*innen und Waldbesitzer*innen sehen sich teilweise in der Bewirtschaftung ihrer Wälder bevormundet und fürchten Enteignung und/oder zukünftige Abhängigkeit von EU-Subventionen.

Diese und zahlreiche weitere Perspektiven wurden am 23. September in einem Webinar zur europäischen Waldstrategie beleuchtet und diskutiert, das vom deutschen Ministerium für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft sowie der Vertretung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen bei der Europäischen Union organisiert wurde.

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From research to action: the future of Old-growth Forests in Europe

Despite making up a small fraction of forest area in Europe, primary and old-growth forests generate heated debates given their importance for biodiversity conservation and provision of many ecosystem services. However, due to the complexity surrounding these forests, discussions sometimes seem to circle indefinitely. Inputs from the latest scientific research are therefore exceptionally valuable, especially when it comes to guiding policy implementation on their protection.

On September 21st, 2021, a webinar on two recently published studies on primary and old-growth forests held by the Commission Working Group on Forests and Nature (sub-working group of the Co-coordination Group for Biodiversity and Nature) provided such an opportunity. EFI presented its recent study, Protecting old-growth forests in Europe – a review of scientific evidence to inform policy implementation. Following, José Barredo gave insight to the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) report on Mapping and assessment of primary and old-growth forests in Europe. The Working Group, which aims to progress the process to define, map, monitor, and strictly protect EU’s primary and old-growth forests, hosted the webinar with the goal of raising awareness of the two studies among the group’s members, as well as to discuss how the scientific findings could inform their ongoing process.

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Glimpsing through the trees – Round of introductions to projects on urban green space, trees, and human health and well-being

On the second day of the Urban Forestry Days (23 – 24 March 2021), policy planners, decision-makers, practitioners and researchers from all around the globe gathered online to explore the role of urban forests for health infrastructure. The two-day collaborative event of integrated Urban Forestry activities was hosted by the European Forest Institute (EFI), the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) and the Horizon 2020 CLEARING HOUSE project and welcomed 750 unique participants from over 68 different countries. The afternoon session on projects exploring linkages between urban green spaces, trees, and human health and well-being invited participants to glimpse through the trees and learn about projects fostering urban green space development.

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Urban Forests in the light of sustainability transition – kick-off at Urban Forestry Days 2021

Cities need to learn from nature in order to organise themselves. (Vicente Guallart, IAAC) The first day of the Urban Forestry Days 2021 kicked-off on…

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Will 2021 be the year for forests? Implications of the upcoming EU Forest Strategy and other frameworks on forest ecosystem services

As the days grow shorter and colder, we are reminded that the final days of 2020 are just on the horizon, leaving us to reflect on the past year and make our hopes and aspirations for the following. But because we are people with a shared passion, we also make reflections and aspirations for our forests. With recent key EU policy frameworks such as the new Green Deal, Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 and the upcoming Forest Strategy, some questions might be on our minds. What are the implications of these new policies for the provision of forest ecosystem services (FES)? And what do representatives from policy, research, nature conservation as well as forest owners and managers consider to be essential in the Forest Strategy? On 7th December, the SINCERE Talks series jointly with the European Integrate Network produced the webinar “Towards an EU policy framework for forest ecosystem services – reflecting on 2020, exploring 2021” which provided a unique and exciting space to discuss these topics.

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Embrace the Green Deal!

Integrate Webinar: Green Deal’s perspectives on forests and forestry in the time of Covid and Greta

On 24 June, the Integrate Network facilitated by the European Forest Institute organised the first Integrate Webinar. The webinar focused on the European Green Deal and its impacts on forest management and protection in Europe, with a special focus on the integration of biodiversity conservation into sustainable forest management – which is the main focus of the Network.

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