From pests and insect damages to megafires and storm events – European forests are affected by diverse and often transnational disturbances, with profound impacts on forest ecosystem services and livelihoods. In response to these challenges the European Forest Institute (EFI) together with risk management stakeholders from all over Europe is establishing the European Forest Risk Facility, an innovative platform of exchange and knowledge transfer on forest disturbances, risk prevention and management. Connecting science, practice and policy, the constitution of the Risk Facility is one of the main objectives of the project SUstaining and Enhancing the REsilience of European Forests (SURE) coordinated by EFI’s Bonn Office. The Risk Facility collects and distributes data and information for a better understanding of forest risks and facilitates the exchange of good practices, ultimately enabling better-informed decisions in natural resource management and policy.
The idea of creating a European Forest Risk Facility originated already back in 2011. This initiative led to the ‘FRISK-GO’ project in which the basic elements for a Forest Risk Facility were developed. Following the ‘connect-collect-exchange’ principle, the project team and collaborators implemented a number of case studies, expert exchanges, training events, workshops, and delivered mutual support. The further development and establishment of a European Forest Risk Facility is currently also supported by the EU-funded project ‘NetRiskWork – Networking for the European Forest Risk Facility’, targeting the development and formation of regional and thematic network nodes and focal points.
Features & objectives of the European Forest Risk Facility
- Networking platform emphasizing the integration of disturbances and risks into day-to-day forest management in order to make forests and forest landscapes more resilient.
- Identification of needs and capacities amongst different regions and respective stakeholders while stimulating cross-boundary exchange of knowledge and expertise on forest risks.
- Fostering collaboration at the interface between science, policy and operational management (science – policy – practice interaction).
- Mobilization of specialists and expert networks to provide the needed guidance and capacities where required or requested.
- Collection of comprehensive and up-to-date information related to damage and threats to forests, identification and communication of gaps to all relevant actors.
- Exchange of lessons learned and good practice guidance as an essential input to stimulate further research, monitoring and support of management activities towards improved and adapted risk mitigation.
SURE establishes a secretariat for the European Forest Risk Facility, consolidates networking structures and tests the operational functioning of the Facility. In addition, an important target for SURE is to secure longer-term funding for the Risk Facility from benefiting countries and organizations.