This interview is part of the ‘Forest Governance Unpacked’ series with key experts in forest governance. It was developed in the context of the NewGo!…
Resilience Blog Posts
FOREST EUROPE, founded on 18 December 1990, is a high-level political process that involves ministers responsible for forests from 46 countries and the European Union (including observers from 14 additional countries and 45 organisations). The main objectives are to develop common strategies to strengthen sustainable forest management in the Pan-European domain and find proper responses to current forest policy challenges. It builds upon FOREST EUROPE’s definition of sustainable forest management and employs criteria and indicators as data basis of the Pan-European forest report (State of Europe’s Forests). As part of the process, members make decisions of highest political relevance regarding forests, forest management and socio-political topics aiming at safeguarding ecological, social and economic benefits of European forests.
From storm events to megafires, from drought to bark beetle damage – with intensified forest disturbance regimes during the last decades we have learned that if we want to mitigate forest risks and prevent negative impacts, we cannot only focus on emergency response and recovery. Thus, preventing disturbances and making forests more resilient has significantly gained in importance along with the insight that we need to learn how to live with intensified disturbances. In the past three years, several networking activities and events as well as fast track sharing of experiences and knowledge during forest related risks crisis have been organized in the framework of the project SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forests (SURE). These activities were aiming at promoting and further developing a European Forest Risk Facility, an evolving knowledge hub consisting of several organisations and experts from all over Europe, coming from the fields of academia, forest practice and risk management, policy and society. After three years (2017-2020) of fruitful activities within SURE, the project reached an end, and we use this opportunity to look back, reflect upon and summarize our work.
Tefera Mengistu works for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission in Ethiopia and the United Nations Development Programme. He held the position of Assistant Professor in Restoration Ecology and Ecophysiology at Hawassa University, Ethiopia (2001-2013) and was the technical lead for developing the Ten Years National Forest Sector Development Program (2016-2018) and the Green Legacy Initiative of Ethiopia (2019-2020).
This interview is part of the ‘Forest Governance Unpacked’ series with key experts in forest governance. It was developed in the context of the NewGo! project which aims to provide scientific knowledge on lessons learned from initiatives related to zero deforestation, forest restoration, and sustainable forest finance. The project sets the ground for the EFI Governance Programme.
The PESFOR-W COST action is inviting you to its final conference. PESFOR-W is looking into the positive impact that woodlands and trees can have on water quality, and how the instruments of payments for ecosystem services (PES, also called eco-schemes) can co-fund tree-based interventions by land owners and land managers. The aim of the PESFOR-W COST Action is to synthesize knowledge, provide guidance and encourage collaborative research to improve Europe’s capacity to use Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) to achieve Water Framework Directive (WFD) targets & other policy objectives through incentives for planting woodlands to reduce agricultural diffuse pollution to watercourses.
The conference will introduce the state-of-the-art in the field, and will showcase the work done by the members of the COST action. Three stakeholders from policy, science and practice will illustrate what Woodland-for-Water PES can do and how they implement them.
Did you know that researchers have linked extreme drought events to losses in forest productivity and widespread tree mortality on every forested continent on earth? As a result of climate change, in the coming decades we expect these drought events to increase in frequency, duration and intensity in many parts of the world, posing an emerging set of challenges at a scale that many contemporary forests have so far not had to deal with. This in turn means that we need to understand how forests respond to, and recover from, such events across a range of both temporal and spatial scales to ensure our forests are resilient to the challenges of a future climate. This understanding must cover everything from how between-tree variability buffers against stand-level change, which tree and stand attributes and management practices confer resilience, how different species growing in different locations respond to similar types of drought and what the long-term implications of these events mean for biodiversity, forest carbon, stand structure and forest growth, amongst many others. In our recent paper “Life after recovery: Increased resolution of forest resilience assessment sheds new light on post‐drought compensatory growth and recovery dynamics” published in the Journal of Ecology (Ovenden et al. 2021), we look at the recovery of trees after drought from a new perspective.
Through human history, forests have provided a great variety of natural resources such as woods, nuts, and fruits. While we have gotten accustomed to these conventional resources, the current environmental crisis has pushed interdisciplinary research to innovate with bio-based materials as an effort to contribute to a bio-based economy.
For the past decade, a great variety of bio-based materials have been developed to replace synthetic packaging, structural materials, leather, and other fossil fuel dependent materials. Many of these are made of agricultural waste such as corn starch, leaves from different plants, coffee waste, and a large etcetera. Moreover, other bio-based materials are developed by harnessing living systems such as mycelium (the root of fungi), algae, and bacteria. This relatively new practical approach (in material design) is called Biodesign.
In January 2021, our esteemed colleague Uwe Schölmerich, Head of the State Forest Enterprise Rhein-Sieg-Erft from the regional forest service “Wald und Holz NRW” retired. This blogpost is a retrospective on our fruitful collaboration with a forest manager who was rightly described by his colleagues as “deeply dedicated to both the forest and people”.
When EFI opened a new office in Bonn in 2017, the few employees had little to no affiliation to their new surroundings, let alone to the forests in that region. As the former capital of Western Germany and a bustling hub of international organisations, Bonn was a strategic location more than anything else.
After spending the first few months in a temporary location, EFI Bonn moved to its final premises on the Platz der Vereinten Nationen in 2018. From the first floor hallway of this building, many new employees caught their first glimpse of the forest embracing the city’s Western boundaries. What initially was no more than a background scenery, quickly turned into an impactful presence in our everyday work, as EFI Bonn slowly started to spread its roots into the fertile soils of the Lower Rhine Bay and its adjacent hills.
The forest that they saw on the western horizon, the Kottenforst, turned out to be managed by a wise, dedicated and friendly man and forester named Uwe Schölmerich.
The bioeconomy is not simply a niche topic for experts. It concerns us all. There is no silver bullet that will solve all our societal and environmental problems. Just like with any ambitious paradigm shift, it requires broad societal engagement, open debates and critical (and most often difficult) discussions. But we think it is all worth it, and that is why we, together with researchers from Freiburg University and the University of Padova, developed an online course on how a circular bioeconomy could aid sustainability and help to face multiple simultaneous challenges related to the environment: the threat of climate change, resource depletion, population growth, and overconsumption.
Bioeconomy is a living concept. Discourses evolve. Opinions and visions of what a better future ought to look like shift. Indeed, the bioeconomy offers a unique opportunity to reshape our current production and consumption pathways, break free from our fossil-dependency, and co-create a truly innovative, sustainable and inclusive economy that works for all. But in order for this to happen, we need broad international involvement, we need to forge innovative inter-sectoral cooperation networks, we need unbiased and fact-based communication and we need to have critical debates about the meaning of sustainability in the bioeconomy context. But most importantly, we need to educate the bioeconomy leaders of tomorrow.
Forests in Europe are expanding. Despite headlines highlighting threats to forests and their ecosystems, like deforestation and natural disturbances due to the climate crisis, Europe’s forested area is steadily growing. One reason is active afforestation, or planting trees, as a common approach to increase forest area, while forest owners or managers often plant species for future harvesting or other reasons, partially supported by governmental subsidies. Yet, this is not the only explanation for Europe’s growing forested area.