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Tag: biodiversity

Managing your forest or not? Find out with the INFORMA Forest Management Platform

By Jonas Simons and Bart Muys (KU Leuven)

Imagine you are responsible for a large, forested area in Europe. Will you manage it, or let nature run its course? If you decide to manage your forest, what would be the consequences? Would it store more carbon? Would it use its resources more efficiently, or produce more wood? What about biodiversity conservation? Would the unmanaged choice have more bird species? Another factor to consider is the frequency of disturbance events, such as fires and windstorms, which is increasing due to climate change. Since you will want to keep the resilience of your forest high, which management option would contribute better to this goal?

Unfortunately, current research answers these questions ambiguously. The relationships between the management of forests, provisioning of several ecosystem services and resilience to disturbances remain rather unclear. In addition, several of the ecosystem services we expect from forests have trade-offs between each other. The bottom line is: before deciding what to do with your forest, you should know your viable management options (including the decision to not manage), and which consequences different implementation options have on how your forest functions. In Work Package 2 (WP2) of INFORMA, led by KU Leuven, we will investigate this knowledge gap. To do so, we are developing the INFORMA Forest Management Platform: a new, large database that is specifically designed to answer management-related questions for European forests. 

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Forest fires, field recorders, and four females 

It is Monday, 6 am. My Colleague Patricia and I (working for Land Life Company) are leaving our office in Burgos heading to Ribera de Folgoso (León), where our SUPERB colleagues from CESEFOR Judit and Rocio are waiting for us. Today we will accompany them to collect and place again field recorders in the plots of our Spanish SUPERB demo in Castilla/León. 

Within the SUPERB project, we have 12 Demo-areas across Europe. In our Spanish demo we amongst other activities investigate degraded areas after a recent wildfire, and look at different states of forest recovery. In this regard, the aim of the field recorders is to identify different bird and bat species present across all these different recovery levels. Birds and bats play a very important role in many habitats as pollinators, insect controllers, dispersers, “reforesters” by regurgitating, defecating, or burying seeds, and they help the tree to “awake” the seed as it passes through their digestive system. Finally, they are of course indicators of biodiversity. Thus, their presence, or absence, can tell us a lot about the state of our forest.  

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Restoring Forests, One Peck at a Time

The Return of the Woodpecker

It was an early arrival at the airport for departure on Saturday morning, packed with several layers of clothing and warm shoes. This time the trip was up North, with final destination Umeå to visit SUPERB’s Swedish demo area. We were first flying to Stockholm and from there taking the train onwards to Umeå. While looking out of the window from the airplane close to Stockholm, we noticed that everything was still very green, no snow in sight. Or at least not yet.  

At the train station we met with Magda, deputy project coordinator of SUPERB, who was also joining us. As we didn’t see any snow yet, we made a bet after how much time on the train we would see full snow cover. Of course, a full snow cover needed to be defined; “Enough snow to not wreck your skis.” Apparently, this was still open for own interpretations. In the end we were all too optimistic. It took longer than expected to reach our expected “winter wonderland”. But we had some beautiful views during the train ride, and the sunset was spectacular.  

During dinner that night in Umeå we had our second Swedish experience, eating reindeer. We would learn more about the role of reindeer for Swedish forests and forest-depending communities later. But now, after such a long travel day and a tasty dinner, it was time for a good night of sleep, so we would be well rested for the next day, exploring the demo area.  

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Re-spiritualizing forests… What in heaven does this mean?!

“In the forests are things you could lie in the moss for years pondering about.” (Franz Kafka) 

With this quotation from a famous local poet, we started our SINCERE project workshop in 2019 in the city of Prague. Experts and enthusiasts of spiritual and cultural values of forests from across Europe and Asia came together for three days to discuss how the “spiritual values of forests” have been relevant in the past as well as the present.  

The result is an exploratory study, based on knowledge from 18 inter-disciplinary experts including natural and social scientists, recently published in Ecology & Society. Funeral forests, forest therapy, and forest bathing: these are all “new” trends, especially in Europe. What is the spiritual fuss over forests about? That’s what we wanted to find out! 

But this spiritual interest in forests is not new at all. Humans have had a close relationship with forests and have been intrigued by their magical nature since forever. Societies depended on forests also for their spiritual development, e.g., sacred natural sites (sacred groves), of which some still exist today. We also know that forests and trees are often central in myths and folklore – thinking about the Brothers Grimm fairytales, but also myths including the mystical and magical power of certain tree species such as the oak…. (and again, even in art and films today such as Lord of the Ring’s Treebeard character and Avatar). 

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Upcoming webinar: European forest restoration: urgently needed but where and how?

Forest restoration is not all roses – it comes with a range of challenges, too. Therefore, implementing and upscaling restoration measures is essential for their successful restoration. In our upcoming webinar “European forest restoration: urgently needed but where and how?” organized by the SUPERB project and IUFRO‘s Task Force ‘Transforming Forest Landscapes for Future Climates and Human Well-Being’ we will discuss how the habitat status of Europe’s forests is currently assessed, and what role data provided by National Forest Inventories can play to inform about forest restoration in Europe. We will also take a deep plunge into our SUPERB demo areas and discover the real-life challenges they are facing to implement restoration on the ground.

Join us on 8th February 4-6pm CET and register here.

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Welche Wälder wollen wir? Neues Martelkom-Projekt nutzt Marteloskope zur Erforschung von Waldwahrnehmung

Wenn Sie einen Waldspaziergang machen, um sich zu erholen – in welchen Wald gehen Sie dann? Wie sieht dieser Wald aus? Fühlen Sie sich wohl unter Nadelbäumen, mögen Sie lieber Eichen und Buchen oder vielleicht einen Mix aus beiden? Wie stellen Sie sich einen attraktiven Wald vor, und was wäre das Gegenteil davon? Die Antworten auf diese Fragen sind vermutlich von vielen verschiedenen Faktoren abhängig: von Ihrem Alter, Ihrem Beruf, und wo Sie leben, aber auch von Ihren Einstellungen und Werten zum Wald. Vielleicht erkennen Sie einzelne Baumarten oder Pflanzen, wenn Sie im Wald pausieren, oder beobachten sogar Vögel und andere Waldtiere? Und hatten Sie jemals Berührungspunkte mit der Forstwirtschaft – oder fragen Sie sich, warum Wälder überhaupt bewirtschaftet werden? 

Mit dem neuen Forschungsprojekt Martelkom (Marteloskope als Forschungs- und Kommunikationsinstrument für integrative Waldwirtschaft) wollen wir vom European Forest Institute (EFI) und der Forstlichen Versuchs- und Forschungsanstalt Baden-Württemberg (FVA) genau diese Fragen erforschen: Wie werden der Wald und die Forstwirtschaft von verschiedenen gesellschaftlichen Gruppen wahrgenommen und welche Art von Wald bevorzugen diese Gruppen? Unser Ziel ist es auch in Zusammenarbeit mit regionalen Forstverbänden in Arnsberg, Bonn und Freiburg zu untersuchen, welche Vorkenntnisse, Werte und Einstellungen mit verschiedenen Eigenschaften von Wald verbunden sind, und ob und in welchem Umfang sich diese ändern, wenn Laien sich mit Waldbewirtschaftung auseinandersetzen. 

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What Twitter images tell us about COP27 issues: A focus on the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership and Biodiversity Day

In our previous exploration we looked at how Twitter hashtags can help us inquire into emerging public issues around global events like COP27. In our rapid exploration, based on the digital methods recipes developed by SUPERB partners at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London and the Public Data Lab, we identified different ways people engage with forest restoration through keywords like #conservation, #afforestation, and #rewild. Hashtags such as #forestsarenotfuel and #lettreesgrow problematised the economic use of forests. Political matters also came up, linking the Amazon rainforest and changing politics in Brazil.

COP27 was undeniably an important meeting to follow up on last year’s Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forests and Land Use, where over 140 world leaders pledged to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. This year’s COP also saw dozens of governments collectively announcing the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), and the day dedicated to biodiversity acted as a platform to discuss the progress of the Glasgow commitment.

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Investigating links between trade and biodiversity

Thanks to global trade, Western societies are not only wealthy but have also access to diverse products. From diapers for our babies or diesel for our cars to the dressing for our salad – the movement of goods in a globalized world allows us to have products for consumption that would otherwise not be available. These can often be everyday products and items taken for granted, so that we don’t necessarily even think of their origins. For example, a typical home would have wooden furniture like tables or shelves. They, or parts of them, could come from wood harvested in Central Africa. Or a common meal could consist of pork meat, where the pork was fed with soymeal processed from soybeans grown in Brazil. Unfortunately, the farming or harvesting of many goods – especially those of biomass like wood or soy – can have negative impacts on the biodiversity of ecosystems, including our forests. As such, the wooden furniture we buy or the pork we eat could be associated with biodiversity loss. In other words, trade becomes the mechanism that links our consumption habits to environmental damage abroad. But, how could we benefit from trade and conserve biodiversity at the same time? 

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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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