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Category: Bioeconomy

Innovating with forests’ resources and integrated mindsets

Through human history, forests have provided a great variety of natural resources such as woods, nuts, and fruits. While we have gotten accustomed to these conventional resources, the current environmental crisis has pushed interdisciplinary research to innovate with bio-based materials as an effort to contribute to a bio-based economy.

For the past decade, a great variety of bio-based materials have been developed to replace synthetic packaging, structural materials, leather, and other fossil fuel dependent materials. Many of these are made of agricultural waste such as corn starch, leaves from different plants, coffee waste, and a large etcetera. Moreover, other bio-based materials are developed by harnessing living systems such as mycelium (the root of fungi), algae, and bacteria. This relatively new practical approach (in material design) is called Biodesign.

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Introduction to Sustainable Bioeconomy: An Online Course for Everyone

The bioeconomy is not simply a niche topic for experts. It concerns us all. There is no silver bullet that will solve all our societal and environmental problems. Just like with any ambitious paradigm shift, it requires broad societal engagement, open debates and critical (and most often difficult) discussions. But we think it is all worth it, and that is why we, together with researchers from Freiburg University and the University of Padova, developed an online course on how a circular bioeconomy could aid sustainability and help to face multiple simultaneous challenges related to the environment: the threat of climate change, resource depletion, population growth, and overconsumption.

Bioeconomy is a living concept. Discourses evolve. Opinions and visions of what a better future ought to look like shift. Indeed, the bioeconomy offers a unique opportunity to reshape our current production and consumption pathways, break free from our fossil-dependency, and co-create a truly innovative, sustainable and inclusive economy that works for all. But in order for this to happen, we need broad international involvement, we need to forge innovative inter-sectoral cooperation networks, we need unbiased and fact-based communication and we need to have critical debates about the meaning of sustainability in the bioeconomy context. But most importantly, we need to educate the bioeconomy leaders of tomorrow.

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Growing forests: What benefits does natural forest expansion offer to society?

Forests in Europe are expanding. Despite headlines highlighting threats to forests and their ecosystems, like deforestation and natural disturbances due to the climate crisis, Europe’s forested area is steadily growing. One reason is active afforestation, or planting trees, as a common approach to increase forest area, while forest owners or managers often plant species for future harvesting or other reasons, partially supported by governmental subsidies. Yet, this is not the only explanation for Europe’s growing forested area.

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“Changing our way of forest management is the key to making forests more resilient”

How can we increase the resilience of our forest to be better prepared for future natural disturbances and climate change, while maintaining a high level of wood production, carbon storage, and habitat quality for biodiversity? The project Innovative forest management strategies for a resilient bioeconomy under climate change and disturbances (I-MAESTRO) aims at improving the scientific basis for developing adequate forest management strategies. In an interview series, we are introducing the different I-MAESTRO partners and their roles in the project – and we are sharing very personal perspectives from different researchers involved. Finally, we are interviewing Laura Nikinmaa, PhD student and research fellow at European Forest Institute (EFI).

What is EFI contributing to I-Maestro?
EFI has several tasks in I-Maestro out of which updating the European forest disturbance database up to 2020 is of major importance. Many of the forest disturbance models predicting the future require adequate knowledge of the previous disturbances so the database can substantially contribute also to our understanding of the future forest disturbances. Another task of EFI is to review the literature on how forest management can affect the disturbance impact. In that task, the aim is to understand what type of forest management does have a mitigating effect on forest disturbances, incorporate this understanding into the forest management simulation models, and to analyse how do the recommended forest management practices reflect the available science.

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“Wie man die Waldbewirtschaftung und die Erhaltung der biologischen Vielfalt in Einklang bringt – ein Blick über ganz Europa”

Vom 9. – 10.11.2020 wird im Rahmen des europäischen Netzwerkes INTEGRATE eine virtuelle Tagung stattfinden, an der auch das neue Buch „How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation – a view across Europe“ vorgestellt wird. Dabei werden die grundlegenden Ansätze des zukunftsweisenden Konzepts einer integrierten Waldbewirtschaftung vorgestellt. Dieses soll die Nachhaltigkeit der Waldbewirtschaftung verbessern, indem die Biodiversitätsförderung, die Holzproduktion und andere Waldleistungen aufeinander abgestimmt werden. Die Veranstaltung unter dem Titel „How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation – a view across Europe“ wird gemeinsam von der Schweiz (Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL, Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU), von Deutschland (Bundesministerium für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung im Rahmen seines Vorsitzes der EU-Ratspräsidentschaft) und vom European Forest Institute (EFI) als internationaler Organisation ausgerichtet.

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“The Integrate approach allows us to improve the efficiency of forests to deliver ecosystem services” – interview with Enrico Pompei

From the Roman Empire to present day: Italy looks back at a long history of cultivating land and making use of forest products. With Enrico Pompei, Director of National and International Forestry Policies of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies we discussed current targets and challenges of forest management in Italy as well as advantages of collaboration and exchange of experiences between different stakeholders involved in the field of forest decision making from local to European level.

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Mehr Holzzuwachs der europäischen Wälder wird abgeschöpft – aber wirklich so viel?

Autoren: Marcus Lindner und Jürgen Bauhus 

In dem frisch publizierten Nature Artikel unter Leitung von Guido Ceccherini „Abrupt increase in harvested forest area over Europe after 2015” (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2438-y) werden Waldverluste aus Satellitenbild-Auswertungen berechnet und dabei kommen die Autoren auf erstaunliche Werte von um fast 50% erhöhte Ernteflächen sowie um sogar 69% erhöhte Holzvolumenentnahmen in den Jahren 2016-2018 verglichen mit dem Zeitraum 2011-2015. Es wird diskutiert, dass eine auf verstärkte Bioökonomie-Entwicklung orientierte Waldpolitik zu diesem drastischen Anstieg in der Nutzungsintensität geführt hat und dadurch das Erreichen von Klimaschutzzielen in Frage gestellt wird.

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Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: The Case of the European Green Deal

On May 20th 2020, EFI held its first ThinkForest webinar: Science Insights to the European Green Deal and Forests. During this interactive event speakers and panelists took an in-depth look into the Green Deal, using a focus on the forest-based sector to discuss a range of topics including its objectives, weaknesses, and potential for further development. During the discussions, a key critique emerged from speakers and panelists: The Green Deal lacks clear consideration of a forest bioeconomy, which is crucial for addressing the climate, economy, and biodiversity simultaneously. The critique was met with an almost unanimous agreement by audience members, with a final poll revealing that 88% of participants thought the Green Deal should be updated to include this missing link.

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