EFI Bonn’s fire risks expert joins science-media partnership

EFI Bonn’s fire risks senior expert Alexander Held was selected as a mentor for the Climate Change Immersive Story Accelerator Lookout360°, a new 6-month media support programme for journalists and producers who are eager to get started with immersive stories on climate change. The programme is a pilot project of the recently launched science-media initiative The Lookout Station initiated by European Forest Institute and the Global Editors Network.

Together with Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media
and Dr. John M. Reilly, Co-Director of MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and other mentors, Alexander Held will support a group of 10 journalists by providing his expertise in forest fires, silviculture and deer management.

More information on the programme, trainers and mentors here.

No fire without smoke – forest fires deteriorate air quality

Fire is not only a threat to forests and livelihoods in the rural areas. As the forest fire season takes on entirely new dimensions by getting longer and more intense, fire – and smoke related health hazards increase, warned an international study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and reported by PhysOrg.

Burning vegetation releases small particulates, that are dangerous even in small quantities. According to the study, in countries with effective measures to reduce air pollution, wildfire emissions are not causing the average annual levels of small particles to surpass the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended thresholds. However, emissions from fires do increase air pollution severely, which in turn can have grave consequences for human health. According to WHO,  the range of health effects of the small particulates is broad, but are predominantly to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. In principle, the longer the exposure to small particulates is, the more severe the impact on health is.

Tragically, it is estimated that more than 700 000 hectares of land have burned in 2017 alone. The data from European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) points out that the majority of fires were caused by human activities. Additionally dry conditions paved the way for small fires to turn into uncontrollable wildfires. Both conditions, on the bright side, indicate that there is potential for fire prevention.

Currently, air quality policies do not include wildfires and the emissions they cause. Additionally, up until this point there is no widely approved way to manage wildfires. In the light of the late megafires, there is an urgent need to collaborate on the international level to find the best approach to manage and prevent wildfires. For the sake of our forests and our health.

Read the entire news article here.

Nature conservation and forest managers from NRW exploring the use of Marteloscopes

Representatives from nature conservation organisations, LIFE+ projects, state forest enterprises and forest associations (communal and private forest owners) situated in North Rhine Westphalia visited the Marteloscope Jägerhäuschen. The Marteloscope is located in the Kottenforst area at the Regional Forest District Office Rhein-Sieg-Erft just outside the City of Bonn.

Introducing: European Network INTEGRATE

The European network INTEGRATE is currently comprised of 16 European member states and involves 50 representatives of policy and research related to forest and environment as well as the European commission. Its main objective is to encourage the international exchange of success stories on integrated forest management, which implies the integration of nature conservation into sustainable forest management.

The network was initially brought into life by German federal minister Christian Schmidt and his Czech colleague Marian Jurêcka, and subsequently supported by the European Commission’s Standing Forestry Committee. Forest management challenges related to nature conservation are rather similar across Europe. States within and outside the EU already plan on being actively involved in the network. INTEGRATE member states will provide forest areas on which their successful management strategies can be exemplified.

“We need wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression” – EFI-expert responds to EU’s new rescEU plan

The European summer of 2017 had unprecedented amounts of natural disasters happening simultaneously, such as devastating forest fires in Portugal, immense storms in Germany and Greece an the UK, often followed by severe floods. It is estimated that natural disasters cost EU member states about 360 Billion Euro over the past 40 years, while over 200 people lost their lives in fires, storms and floods in 2017 alone.

Threatened by increasing magnitudes of climate change and destabilized by a lack of resources and cross border coordination, the EU faced the fact that something has to change. To boost Europe’s ability to better deal with natural disasters, the European Commission yesterday launched rescEU, an initiative to improve the European system to tackle natural disasters. The intention is to strengthen European response capacities on the one hand, and (maybe) more importantly to improve cooperation and coherence of disaster prevention and preparedness among European countries on the other hand.

“From the perspective of the European Forest Risk Facility hosted by European Forest Institute we welcome the statement of the commissioner, indeed we support his statement for more cooperation and prevention, hand in hand with adequate response to disasters”, says European Forest Institute’s (EFI) own senior expert on Forest-, Fire-, and Wildlife management Alexander Held.  However, we might have the wrong focus, also reflected in media coverage (like the German ZEIT), which so far focuses on the first aspect: suppression and fire control. A misallocation of money and resources, arisen due to misinformed people with a wish for a political spectacle, according to Held. “Large wildfires only occur through a combination of three things: an ignition, severe fire weather and a large contiguous accumulation of fuel. Take away the factors mankind cannot control, and you are left dealing with the accumulation of fuel – thus preemptive fire management. Broad scale fuel reduction burning (or grazing, mulching, mowing, converting to productive, valuable forest) is the only defense we have against large wildfires”, so Held. “Fire control through water bombers has its place, but is – just like any other case of symptom combating –  ineffective when dealing with large wildfires.”

Make sure you do not miss out on Alexander Held’s full statement on rescEU, as he makes a comprehensive case for allocating resources towards wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression. The statement is based on the expertise of the forest fire manager Held and does not necessarily reflect EFI’s viewpoint as an organization.

 

Under the magnifying glass: Private sector commitment to climate protection

On 14th November 2017, in the context of the COP23, the Senate of the Economy together with the European Forest Institute and ForestFinest held a panel discussion on the private sector’s potential to contribute to climate protection. Prof. Dr. Dr. Franz-Josef Radermacher, president of the senate, gave an inspiring key-note speech on how to combat climate change and satisfy global needs at the same time and with that triggered a lively discussion with his fellow speakers. The speakers included EFI’s own Lukas Giessen, principal scientist on International Forest Governance, Anna Rösinger – director of We Forest and Dirk Walterspacher of ForestFinest Consulting. Dr. Christoph Brüssel, from the Senate of the Economy, moderated the discussion.

Heute noch bewerben: SDW-WorkCamp Brasilien-Deutschland zu nachhaltiger Waldbewirtschaftung

Auf nach Brasilien und den Wald entdecken! … und die Brasilianerinnen und Brasilianer in unseren Wald einladen!

Im aktuellen Projekt „Internationales WorkCamp – Junge Erwachsene für nachhaltige Waldbewirtschaftung“ der SDW-Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald wird das möglich. Durch direkten Austausch in der Amazonasregion und in Deutschland sollen Wissen zu nachhaltiger Waldbewirtschaftung aufgebaut und in Wald-WorkCamps kreative Bildungsmaterialien entwickelt werden. Die Teams arbeiten interdisziplinär und setzten sich aus jeweils acht jungen Erwachsenen aus Brasilien und Deutschland unterschiedlicher Studiengänge (Forst, Umwelt, Design, Kommunikation, Marketing, Kunst, etc.) zusammen.

Interessierte Studierende aus Deutschland sind eingeladen, sich bis zum 20.11.2017 bei der SDW-Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald zu bewerben. Die Teilnahme, Reise und Unterkunft für alle Veranstaltungen sind kostenlos.

Weitere Informationen finden Sie hier oder über katharina.schluender@sdw.de. 

“REDDy for more? The future of global forest governance”- EFI Side Event @ COP23 in Bonn

Amongst a number of other European Forest Institute’s side event activities and contributions during the climate #COP23 in Bonn, the Institute organised this side event in the prestigious facilities of its new Bonn office, well-located on the UN campus and next door to the climate negotiations. This joint effort between EFI Bonn, the EFI FLEGT and REDD Unit in Barcelona, and the EFI-coordinated SAFARI project was organised by Dr. Lukas Giessen, Anna Begemann, Theresa Cashore, Camilla Dolriis, and Gesche Schifferdecker, all EFI Bonn. More than 50 participants representing government, international organisations, NGOs, academia as well as private companies and consultancy firms attended this vivid discussion event on 11th November 2017.

The climate deliberations of previous years have clearly shown: Forests are a crucial aspect of global approaches to climate change policy, esp. in the tropics. Persistent deforestation and forest degradation cause a huge amount of carbon emissions, while growing forest stock, legal and sustainable forest management as well as the use of wood-based materials are highly capable of mitigating emissions from multiple sources.

Kick-off Workshop of Integrated Forest Management Learning Architecture (InForMAr)

The Kick-off workshop of the project Integrated Forest Management Learning Architecture (InForMAr) will take place on 7th and 8th of December 2017 in the new premises of European Forest Institute’s Bonn Office.

Altogether around 30 European policy stakeholders and scientists will meet to discuss goals of the InForMAr project. The participants’ task will be to look at relevant questions relating to the integration of nature conservation in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) through integrated forest management approaches in Europe. This involves e.g. the discussion of forest functions, of socioeconomic driving factors and how they determine the work of practitioners as well as the question of how forest policy can better support the implementation of integrative forest management.
The workshop aim is to build a network of practitioners, scientists and European policy stakeholders interested in the issue of integrated forest management. The result of the discussions of the workshop will be used by the InForMAr researchers and will be examined for the next stage of the project.
The keynote speakers incude: Yoan Paillet (IRSTEA), Lena Gustafsson (SLU), Metodi Sotirov (University of Freiburg), Susanne Winter (WWF Deutschland), Peter Löffler (DG Environment), Eckart Senitza (Pro Silva Europe), Robert Flies (Luxembourg Private Forest Owners).
Keynote speeches will be followed by group discussions focusing on driving forces for integrated forest management. During the event the movie, “Wise use of our forests: the integrative approach” produced by InForMAr researcher Andreas Schuck will be screened.

The InForMAr Project is funded and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and follows the projects Integrate and Integrate+.

Palm oil plantation (photo by Tim Cadman)

Governing the forests: how fiscal instruments can act as a (dis)incentive to reducing emissions

In recent years, the concept of ‘governance’ rather than ‘government’ has become a popular term for describing the interactions between stakeholders in the sustainable development policy arena. In this context, especially in the arena of forest management, it is used to describe the structures and processes that steer, or co-ordinate the relations between multi-stakeholders (government, business, civil society). Usually, governance refers to human actors, but there are other forces that exercise influence over how forests are managed. One of the most important of all these, is that most essential resource: money. This brief report outlines the role that public finance, and most importantly the fiscal instruments developed by governments, can have a considerable influence over the fate of the world’s forests.

Research undertaken by the author in 2016-2017 investigated the extent to which fiscal incentives encouraged, or discouraged, private sector involvement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiative known as REDD+ (“Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries”).

In Indonesia, REDD+ has been recognized as a potentially significant source of revenue, while at the same time providing an important incentive to contribute to reductions in global deforestation. However, in a series of interviews and surveys, forest-based business stakeholders identified a number of issues impacting on their ability to undertake activities that would lead to reducing deforestation and forest degradation, and emissions.