New FORWARDS project will provide crucial information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change
Climate change has already had a deleterious impact on forests ecosystems and silviculture in various parts of the world. But healthy trees translate to healthy citizens: everyone benefits from forests’ clean air, safe food and water, and recreational space.
With a total budget of €14m funded by the European Commission’s HorizonEurope (plus additional funding by Switzerland and the UK) and more than 19 partners (incl. European Forest Institute) involved, the FORWARDS project (ForestWard Observatory to Secure Resilience of European Forests) will provide timely and detailed information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change. The project will also deliver science-based knowledge to guide management using the principles of climate-smart forestry, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity conservation. With its activities, FORWARDS aims at supporting European forests and society to transform, adapt, and mitigate climate-induced changes.
The project will include 5 demo-sites plus circa 50 grants to third parties to e.g. establish trials. The five demo-sites are Hemiboreal Forests, Latvia; Central Apennines, Italy; Alpine region in Switzerland, and Vindelälven Biosphere Reserve, Sweden as well as Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Scotland, the latter also both demonstration sites in EFI’s project SUPERB: Upscaling Forest Restoration – SUPERB (forest-restoration.eu).
The ForestWard Observatory will be constructed under the principle of co-design to address the information needs by users and stakeholders. The project’s ambition for the Observatory is to become an established instrument to support decision-making across scales to boost the uptake of good climate smart forestry and ecosystem restoration management practices throughout Europe, while efficiently informing about climate change, disturbance impacts and resilience of European forests.
European Forest Institute leads the work package on Restoration and Climate-Smart Forest management practices and contributes to the work package on Knowledge platform: a multi-actor forum for integrating stakeholder & civil society perspectives. EFI will also launch and manage grants to third parties to set up the ForestWard Observatory, and support the implementation and scaling-up of climate-smart restoration pilots. Finally, EFI will lead a task on policy dialogue and international cooperation. This means establishing close links and cooperation patterns with other European projects under the same or other calls – e.g. SUPERB: Upscaling Forest Restoration – SUPERB (forest-restoration.eu) and https://resonateforest.org, Holisoils – European Forest Soils – HoliSoils and ForestPaths – in joint communication and dissemination activities, participation in working groups and regular exchange of inputs and sharing of experiences in the context of forestry and climate change as well as joint workshops and webinars, press releases, social media support and exchange.
Featured image: Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Scotland.