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Tag: biodiversity

The Emperor’s New Clothes: Why the EU Nature Restoration Regulation might fall short on biodiversity

The recent news around the now-adopted EU Nature Restoration Regulation has been significant, but is it really the game-changer it is being promoted as? The original 2022 proposal from the European Commission set the stage with ambitious and unambiguous goals for nature restoration. It was a clear call to action with legally binding targets and commitments.

Fast-forward to 2024, and the final version of the Regulation, shaped by amendments made by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, is rather a shadow of its former self. Instead of a robust legislative framework on restoration, we are left with a diluted set of subjective targets. While many argue that this is better than nothing, I find it hard not to see this as a step back from the originally proposed goals. What was once a strong plan is now a paper tiger, lacking substance and bite.

However, as a researcher, I find it interesting to highlight some of the changes and communication around the restoration regulation as an excellent example of framing in practice and the overall power of words (both for communication and legislation).

Let us get into why!

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Key actions needed for resilient forests

In a world facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and growing pressure on natural resources, we rely on resilient forest ecosystems (IPCC 2023) to mitigate these threats and support the well-being of our communities. On the one hand, forests are being increasingly impacted by numerous disturbances including wildfires, windstorms, droughts, and biotic threats. On the other hand, forests play a crucial role in addressing global challenges: they provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, habitat provision, and sustainable livelihoods.

In 2020, former EFI researcher Laura Nikinmaa and her colleagues investigated fostering forest resilience as a key response strategy to address uncertainty stemming from global change. But how can theoretical concepts be translated into practical actions? Based on a systematic review of 255 studies, Nikinmaa et al. (2020) pointed out that the more holistic concept of social-ecological resilience  – which involves enhancing the ability of ecosystems to provide essential services while maintaining human well-being – has not been implemented widely in the practice of forest management because of the lack of clarity in operationalising it. At the same time, policy makers are tasked with devising policies without sound knowledge of the processes that have promoted forest resilience in the recent past. As a result, both policy makers and forest managers lack a broad understanding of whether forests are going to be resilient in the future given the current global trends (Nikinmaa et al. 2020).

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Rewilding: navigating below the tip of the iceberg

By Davide Pettenella and Mauro Masiero (University of Padova, Italy)

In recent times, the tip of a large iceberg called rewilding has been spotted in the vast ocean of nature management and ecological restoration. Profound global and local changes have shaken this iceberg from its glacial platform, sparking ample interest in rewilding approaches. Although most attention is directed to the iceberg’s visible tip, rewilding conceals deeper complexities below the surface. Unveiling hidden depths would help a better understanding of rewilding as an emerging, wicked topic.

What are different pathways to rewilding and how do these approaches build on various ideas of human-nature relationships? We will embark on a journey to navigate these depths onboard a “socioeconomic and policy” submarine. Join our crew to gain a perspective different from – or, at least, complementary to – more ordinary periscopes.

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Improving biodiversity monitoring in sustainable forest management

Several decades ago, FOREST EUROPE developed a set of Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for SFM, that was improved and revised over the years. Those are publicly available, and countries use it as a very important tool for national and European forest policy, and for the development of their National Forest Inventories. Based on the information obtained by these C&I, the State of Europe’s Forests report is regularly published every five years.  

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Video: Increase biodiversity to strengthen oak resilience

Climate change and its impacts on forest ecosystems, such as the increase of pests, poses a great threat to oaks. Fortunately, several ecological measures are available to improve oak vitality. Parasitoid insects, for example, are natural antagonists of leave-eating caterpillars and can help control forest pests. In the “Oak Resilience” project, the state agency Wald und Holz NRW investigated parasitoids in selected study areas in North-Rhine Westphalia

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The roots of innovation – setting the course for sustainable growth in the forest sector

This year, the International Day of Forests (IDF) theme is ‘Forests and Innovation.’ In alignment with this theme, FOREST EUROPE organized a webinar on 14 March 2024 to commemorate it and facilitate a networking space for start-ups, forest practitioners, students, policymakers, and interested people.

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„10 Must-Knows” als Wegweiser für mehr Biodiversität

Neuer Policy Report mit Kapitel zum Erhalt von Biodiversität und vielfältiger Waldnutzung 

Von der noch unentdeckten Artenvielfalt über widerstandsfähige Wälder bis zu den Auswirkungen des Lebensmittelkonsums auf die Natur: 64 Expertinnen und Experten haben jetzt ihr Wissen und ihre Empfehlungen gebündelt und in Form von „10 Must-Knows aus der Biodiversitätsforschung“ für 2024 veröffentlicht. Der neue Bericht des Leibniz-Forschungsnetzwerks Biodiversität zeigt Politik und Gesellschaft konkrete Wege auf, wie die biologische Vielfalt in Deutschland auf lokaler, nationaler und europäischer Ebene wirksam erhalten und nachhaltig genutzt werden kann, und wie sich dadurch zugleich das Klima schützen lässt. Eines der 10 Must-Knows Kapitel bezieht sich dabei auch konkret auf den Umgang mit unseren Wäldern. Mit der Veröffentlichung steuern die Forschenden aktuelle, wissenschaftliche Fakten zur Debatte um die nationale Biodiversitätsstrategie bei, die noch vor der nächsten Weltnaturkonferenz (CBD COP 15) im Herbst 2024 verabschiedet werden soll.

Nach der großen Resonanz auf die 2022 erstmals veröffentlichten „10 Must-Knows aus der Biodiversitätsforschung“ haben jetzt Forschende aus insgesamt 52 deutschen und internationalen Forschungseinrichtungen – einschließlich des European Forest Institutes – ihre Expertise aus den Umwelt-, Lebens-, Raum-, Sozial-, Geistes- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften in die Neufassung eingebracht. „Bereits heute überschreiten wir planetare Belastungsgrenzen, sowohl bei der globalen Erwärmung als auch beim Verlust biologischer Vielfalt. Um diesen Krisen zu begegnen, braucht es gemeinsame Antworten. Wir wissen, dass der Schutz der Biodiversität wesentlich dazu beitragen kann, den Klimawandel abzuschwächen, etwa durch artenreiche Wälder und wiedervernässte Moore, die Kohlenstoff speichern. Nur wenn Maßnahmen zum Schutz der Biodiversität stärker in den Fokus rücken, kann es gelingen, gegen beide Krisen zugleich vorzugehen“, sagt Dr. Kirsten Thonicke, Leitautorin und stellvertretende Abteilungsleiterin am Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK), die das Forschungsnetzwerk koordiniert. 

Auch das European Forest Institute in Bonn steuert mit Forschungserkenntnissen zu Waldbewirtschaftung und Biodiversitätsschutz zu dieser Neufassung bei. In Kapitel 5 „Vielfältige Nutzung von Waldökosystemen und Biodiversitätschutz in Einklang bringen”, erläutern 7 Wissenschaftler*innen aus 5 verschiedenen Institutionen, darunter Leitautor Mats Nieberg und Ko-autor*innen Trishna Dutta und Andreas Schuck vom European Forest Institute, wie unterschiedliche Bedürfnisse und Anforderungen an Wälder integriert werden können.

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The future of sustainable forest management grows with TRANSFORMIT

New collaborative project launches to integrate societal demands with biodiversity conservation

Whether we witness branches coming back to life as spring unfolds, observe squirrels swiftly disappearing into the woods, or notice the crisp sound of boots on snow-covered trails—forest experiences hold meaning to us in many ways. But how else can we value forests?

Clean water sources, fresh air, healthy soil, flood control, climate change mitigation, and the survival of wildlife—all of these contribute to the relational value of forests. This goes beyond mere timber; forests embody a wealth of long-lasting socio-ecological benefits. We deeply rely on forests for social, economic, and cultural wellbeing. Balancing the needs of diverse stakeholders and reconciling short-term gains with long-term interests has been a historical challenge in the relationship between societal demands and forest conservation efforts. It is a dilemma that risks fueling environmental conflict and pessimism across the world.

Integrative Forest Management (IFM) emerges as a practical solution to address these conflicts. IFM seeks to harmonize the ecological and socio-economic demands for forests through sustainable forest management, aiming to enhance biodiversity while equally ensuring economic viability. Over the past 13 years, European Forest Institute’s (EFI) exploration and research into IFM through projects like Integrate (2011-2013), Integrate+ (2013-2016), INFORMA (2017-2020), and FoReSite (2020-2022), have been proactive. While the concept of IFM is well-established, it currently lacks operational elements in terms of verification, monitoring, guidance, and Europe-wide implementation. This gap is what led us to initiate the new TRANSFORMIT project. 

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Forests do not end at national borders – how can united knowledge help Europe’s forests?

This is a report made by three representatives from the International Forestry Students’ Association during their voluntary work for the HLPD 2023 organization.

On November 9, government representatives and practitioners from all over Europe came together in Berlin for the second FOREST EUROPE High-Level Talks to address one question: How can sustainable forest management help make Europe’s forests more resilient to the consequences of climate change?

For those who don’t know, FOREST EUROPE is a pan-European forest policy process at the ministerial level in which guidelines, criteria, and indicators of sustainable forest management are developed. And we had the opportunity to be the youth representatives.

What have we seen? What are the bullet points we, the Youth, take from this day full of panel discussions? This is our perspective on the topic of „growing healthier forests“ and the efforts the government representatives make in their countries.

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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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