Are you a forest owner or manager, policy maker or entrepreneur working on forest related topics, are you a conservation activist or a citizen interested in wood-based products?
You might know a forest which suffered from fire or bark-beetle damages recently. You might have been struggling with different – and sometimes conflicting – demands to the forest, no matter if it’s your forest or you are managing it. Or did you have trouble buying wood for e.g. a garden fence or your roof yet?
If this all doesn’t apply to you, you might still be concerned about all the recent news in the media about damages to our forests in Europe. To address these challenges, the new H2020 project RESONATE aims to generate the needed knowledge and practical guidance for making European forests, the services they provide, and related economic activities more resilient to future climate change and disturbances.
Forests and climate change: problem child or problem solution?
Forests are sometimes presented as the jackpot and one-fits-it all solution for many of our environmental problems, especially with regards to their potential to combat climate change. Indeed, forests and associated value chains provide products and material that can replace the fossil-fuel based ones as well as provide many immaterial services such as air purification and recreation. Simultaneously, our forests continue to face severe challenges. Global warming changes the environmental conditions, causing the need to adapt to changing tree species suitability. Changes in climate also influence disturbance regimes, causing increases in both the frequency and the intensity of disturbances. Forests are in the midst of the global biodiversity decline as many of the threatened species are forest-dwelling species – and the way forests are managed is part of the problem as well. And finally, forest-based value chains are already and will be struggling even more in the future to manage both the challenges imposed by climate change and biodiversity decline as well as the ever-changing societal demands on forests and their products – from furniture and bioenergy to nuts or essential oils.
Answers to real-life problems
While the threats caused by climate change are beginning to be well-known amongst the general public, the need to increase the resilience of the forests and especially the dependent value chains has gained less attention, and therefore both proper advice and related tools are lacking. That gap of knowledge is exactly what we are going to tackle with RESONATE, a Horizon2020 project funded by the European Commission with 20 partner institutions from 12 different European countries. Coordinated by the European Forest Institute, we have started the project in April 2021 and will run it for four years.
To increase awareness amongst decision makers, professionals, and public, and to make sure that the project finds answers to their real-life problems, we involve many stakeholders to share their experiences and knowledge throughout the entire project duration.
From measuring to enhancing resilience
Furthermore, we will develop a common resilience framework. Why do we need this? Many have tried to define and measure forest resilience, but a common problem for resilience assessment is that these definitions and measures are difficult to apply in another situation than the one they have been developed for. RESONATE is uniquely positioned to tackle this problem.. Our project partners are a group of multidisciplinary researchers and experts from forest ecology, economics, social sciences, and industry. In addition to the partners, we work with 10 case studies that cover forests and related value chains at the regional, national or European level. The diverse range of forests, management practices and surrounding communities covered by RESONATE make sure that the resilience indicators defined by the project will be widely applicable.
In addition to providing a new way to measure resilience, we will analyze the possible futures of our forests related value chains: How will the disturbance regimes change? What pressures do forest value chains face? How resilient are our European forests to these changes? Answers to these questions will be extremely valuable for forest owners and managers, who often lack concrete information and guidance on forest management when it comes to climate change adaptation and enhancing the resilience of their forests. To respond to this need, we will develop forest management approaches that enhance biodiversity all the while ensuring the resilience of forests to disturbances.
Finally, RESONATE is not just another research project where the results are buried in scientific papers behind paywalls. To make sure anyone interested can follow the project news, our RESONATE team will regularly share blog posts about our research results, tweet about the latest news and broadcast the experts’ opinions from different parts of Europe. Follow the project channels to learn how we can and will have resilient forests for society.