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Resilience Blog Posts

“Japanese forest policy is like a black box to me…”

…That thought was in my head when I entered the seminar held by Dr. Ryo Kohsaka on my first day as a communications trainee in EFI’s Bonn Office.

Thanks to Dr. Kohsaka, who is currently Professor at Nagoya University in Japan, that black box was a bit opened and illuminated.

But let us start with some background information on Japanese forestry.

Japan is the country most covered by forest (total forest area is around 25 million ha, accounting for two-thirds of the total land area of Japan) worldwide after Finland and Sweden.  Interesting was also, that Japanese people consider protection from landslide disasters as the forests’ most important function, directly followed by the prevention of global warming.

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Discussions of economic impacts and long-term benefits of Integrated Forest Management

French forest professionals visit forest enterprise in Germany

Within European Forest Institute, we frequently organize Exchange of Experts (EoE) to share knowledge on integrative forest management concepts. With foresters from the French Office National des Forêts, we recently co-organised and participated in an EoE addressing nature conservation managers, forest contractors and representatives from local municipalities. In a two-day excursion event they were introduced to the integrative forest management concept applied in the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise of Ebrach, Germany.

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Where is Japanese forest policy going?

What role does forest policy play in Japan? Why did the Japanese government implement a forest environment transfer tax scheme in 2019? Who is affected by this new approach to forest management? And how are the reactions from different Japanese prefectures?

On Wednesday, 13 November 2019, 12am, Professor Ryo Kohsaka from Nagoya University will introduce us to the new Japanese national forest environment transfer tax and management system. The presentation will take place at European Forest Institute’s Bonn Office, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 6, 53113 Bonn.

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Helping journalists report on complex science

On 11-12 July 2019, nine journalists from six media teams visited the Białowieża Forest to attend the ‘Sound Co-Lab Reporting’ – a workshop introducing audio storytelling techniques to report on forest-related issues. The workshop was part of the Lookout Station which aims to bridge the gap between science and media and bring innovation to newsrooms. The event was organized in collaboration with EUFORGEN to bring forest genetics onto the map of interconnected issues needed to decipher today’s complex problems.

Białowieża Forest, a UNESCO-protected site on the border between Poland and Belarus, is known worldwide for its high conservation value and for a history of controversy over conservation and forest management.

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Disaster Risk Management via app?

The European Commission’s Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre and the Directorate General for Research and Innovation have developed a platform, Gaps Explorer, that collects pre-analysed information on recent and ongoing Disaster Risk Management (DRM) projects and provides recommendations for actions to three groups: practitioners, policy makers and scientists.

The first pilot was developed on Forest Fires. This is a major hazard throughout Europe, producing large environmental and economic losses and having an impact on human lives. Effective forest fire management and decision-making requires science-based information. The analysis of the knowledge, methodologies and technologies produced in the last two decades opens up new perspectives for enhanced forest fire risk management in the face of climate change, social and cultural trends and growth dynamics.

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“Watching trees grow, shrink, drink and breathe”

“This oak tree and me, we’re made of the same stuff, ” Carl Sagan, one of the most inspiring science communicators of the 20th Century once said. But what did he mean?

Probably, he thought of Darwin and his famous universal tree of life, that was used not only as a metaphor, but also as a model and research tool. Furthermore, by choosing an oak tree as a comparison, Sagan might have referred to himself being strong, tall, long-standing. More generally, his quote could refer to the ancient relationship of human beings and the forest. And finally, Carl Sagan obviously used a personification to relate to the tree, to “humanize” it – a common approach in science communication.

By “humanizing” nature, we create empathy. That is one reason why German forester Peter Wohlleben’s book “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—” was so successful. However, Wohlleben is quite controversially discussed among both foresters and scientists. “Not scientific enough,” researchers say. “Too emotional,” forest practitioners complain.

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A SINCERE interest in forest ecosystem services

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” -John Muir

Forests have more to offer than timber and wood products. Through its multifunctional nature, it provides several other goods and services such as carbon sequestration, erosion control and the provision of clean water. These benefits which people obtain from forests can collectively be referred to as “forest ecosystem services”.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) 2005 report classifies ecosystem services into three categories:

  • Provisioning services (e.g. food, fresh water, firewood)
  • Regulatory services (e.g. climate regulation, carbon sequestration)
  • Cultural ecosystem services (nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences)
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State-aid to protect Germany’s forests (Waldgipfel)

A devastating combination of heat, drought, fire, storms and beetle plagues have destroyed a remarkable amount of forest area in Germany, as well as in many countries across the globe. To discuss how this affects Germany’s forests and the different measures to counteract the impact of such threats, the Federal Agriculture Minister, Julia Klöckner, convened a Forest Summit on 25 September 2019 in Berlin. On the occasion of the summit, several institutions have published their own position to point out their perspective of what is needed to strengthen climate-resilient forests.

Besides its undoubtedly high value for nature ecosystem services, forests are the largest terrestrial carbon sink we have, and are regarded as highly important for some economies. Last two years, however, many forest owners have faced financial troubles.

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