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Enhancing resilience of forests to disturbances – why networks are essential. Day 1 of the SURE conference.

“Collaboration is key to enhance forest resilience.” This was the opening message given by Marcus Lindner (project coordinator of SURE) when introducing the SURE conference and the European Forest Risk Facility on the 26th of August. During this first day, more than 70 participants joined the conference, from 25 different countries, representing science, practice and policy. Seven presenters from the European Forest Risk Facility network reflected upon the significance of collaboration highlighting the importance of immediate response, exchange of experts, prevention, networking, and media interaction to raise public awareness. The whole conference was supported by the graphic reporting of Alex Giurca who combined the skills of a note taker and artist to provide a visual and captivating representation of the conference. Such tools are a creative and immediate support to decision making providing an illustration and key messages of complex presentations and discussions.

The graphic reporting of 26th of August by Alex Giurca

Experts mobilization

Damjian Orazem (Slovenia Forest Service) presented the Slovenian experience with the compounding effects of the 2014 ice storm, the 2017 windbreak, and subsequent bark beetle outbreak. Two main aspects emerged: the social one, lighting up the importance of international exchange of expertise and the natural one, indicating the need of paradigm shift in forest management from monoculture plantations to natural regeneration and mixed species

Christoph Hartebrodt (FVA) also reinforced the social aspect, as an approach to ease the fact that “there is no standard protocol to tackle a crisis”. The process map tool and the identification of four traps that risk managers face, when dealing with disturbances such as insect outbreaks, can help to give visualization of the individuals role, encourage communication between stakeholders, and find solutions adapted to the local conditions.

Active Networking

Alexander Held (EFI) and Carlos Trindade (Civil Protection Service Mafra) presented the Flamework, a “vibrant informal network” to “bring people together to move from fire suppression to fire prevention”. Whatsapp and no budget served here as the basis to motivate fire managers, scientists, policy makers, and foresters around the globe to meet and practice best fire and fuel management.

The success of the networking approach was also proved by Nuria Prat (Pau costa Foundation) and Nina Dobrinkova (CMINE) in their presentations. When “the flames do not let us see the real fire”, actors at any levels and sectors should meet and exchange knowledge, as the Spanish foundation has been doing since 2011. The CMINE platform encourages local experts and practitioners to bring inputs to the European level addressing European risk reduction policy. In this way, fragmentation can be reduced and innovative ideas developed.

Media involvement

The last presentations of the day brought good suggestions on how to transmit important research activities to media and the broader public. Cathelijne Stoof (WUR) promoted “reactive science communication” with media and “proactive use of the network“, involving several experts and having a standard message to transmit. An alternative to interviews is to make a TV documentary, as ARTE national TV did with support by Pavel Bednar to inform the public on forest bark beetle management in Czech Republic, and eventually influence policy makers.

The presentation given by Cathelijne Stoof, in the session moderated by Maria Schlossmacher with the IT support of Jose Bolanos.

Learning from one another, active networking and communication are the doors to improve cooperation to tackle disturbances in our European forests.

This was a brief outline on the first day of the conference. Do not forget to watch the video with the main messages from the network presentations and the setting behind the scene made by Rosa Castañeda. On EFI’s YouTube channel you can see two more presentations on the activities and research done during three years of SURE, and on the Tool Compendium and Map of forest disturbance actors that soon will be released. In due time, a summary of the highlights and discussion from the second day with policy-makers will also be available on our Resilience Blog.


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