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Category: Climate change

The invisible workforce: seasonal migration in the forest sector 

They help farmers to pick asparagus and support foresters with salvage-cutting bark-beetle damaged trees: The EU – and especially countries like Spain, Poland and Germany – is heavily dependent on so called “seasonal migrants”, either from other EU Member States or third world countries. Bringing the issue closer to home, Germany receives around 300,000 workers per year for agricultural, horticultural and forestry work, many of them from Central and Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Romania. Very often, they remain invisible. We asked ourselves, how many of these workers can we specifically find in the forest sector? What roles do they play and how can these be distinguished from the agricultural sector? How are the working conditions? And what can we do to make this issue more visible?  

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How can the EU double its forests’ climate change mitigation impact by 2050? New Horizon Europe project INFORMA to provide answers

Forests can act as carbon sinks or emitters, as made clear by this summer’s catastrophic forest fires that ravaged southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula. The devastating events following August’s record heatwave resulted in Europe’s highest wildfire emissions in 15 years. Only in the region of Valencia, Spain, the fires released more than 1 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual emissions of all private cars in the three capital cities of the province: Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.

Although climate change played a major role in the catastrophe, the fires were aggravated by rural exodus, which led to the abandonment of forest management in the area and to the accumulation of flammable vegetation, explains José Vicente Oliver, professor at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV).

In cooperation with EFI, Oliver and his team are looking for ways to prepare the EU’s forests for future climate scenarios and realise their full carbon absorption potential by mainstreaming Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) into more conventional management practices. In the new Horizon Europe project INFORMA, EFI, UPV and other partners are tackling crucial questions around SFM that remain partially unanswered by science, unaddressed by policies and unexplored by most carbon offsetting schemes. How can we manage existing forests in different European biogeographic regions for enhanced carbon capture while ensuring the provision of other ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation and wood production? Where and how should we grow new forests, and which species should be used? How can we adapt and increase forests’ resilience to more frequent disturbances such as drought, fires, windstorms and pests?

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Talking through research landscapes

Reflections on inter-generational interactions in science and the potential of young scientists 

Imagine you are sitting in a room full of people for three days. Listening to a lot of presentations which do not necessarily light up your interests. You make the effort to resist the temptation of checking your mailbox. Feeling guilty for seeing work accumulating, knowing you will have to address part of it at night, alone in your hotel room. Eventually, you will be presenting your work and – if you are lucky – have an awesome 20 minutes of lit discussion and feedback. But after that, you will rely on coffee again to fight back the gravity attacking your eyelids, especially in the post-lunch sessions. You will be looking forward for the drinks at the end of the day to socialize a bit and get to know people. 

In my short, young scientist’s experience, that’s how I’ve portraited – and experienced – scientific conferences. 

A (much needed) alternative 

Well, the latest conference I attended was absolutely nothing of the above. 

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Sustaining cities, naturally – across 3 continents

The role of cities in the light of the health of people and the planet alike, is undeniably crucial. While cities only make up about 2% of terrestrial areas, more than 50% of the World’s population is already living in cities (Pincetl, 2017). This trend of urbanization is expected to continue to grow into a staggering 65% of the world population living in cities by 2040 (weforum, 2019).  

While poorly planned urbanization can lead to societal challenges such as social deprivation, climate change, deteriorating health and increasing pressure on urban nature, urban ecosystem restoration can contribute to lessen these challenges, through for example implementing nature-based solutions (NBS). Research by the ISGlobal drastically illustrated this: An increase in overall greenness in cities could prevent up to almost 43.000 deaths in European cities every year (ISGlobal, 2021).
On Thursday and Friday, the 13th and 14th of October the webinar “Sustaining Cities, Naturally” focused precisely on these topics: NBS and urban ecosystem restoration. The webinar was jointly organized by four Horizon 2020 projects: INTERLACECONEXUSREGREEN and CLEARING HOUSE as an official side-event of the The European Week of Regions and Cities 2022. By bringing together cities, regions and local authorities, city network representatives, policy makers, researchers, civil society and experts on NBS and urban ecosystem restoration, the webinar was a showcase example of international cooperation in knowledge creation and exchange. With a total of 333 participants on Thursday and 571 on Friday as well as 29 speakers, NBS and urban ecosystems restoration in Europe, China and Latin America were discussed in depth and from various perspectives.  

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“Forest restoration needs to look ahead, not backwards, in face of climate change”: An interview with SUPERB coordinator Elisabeth Pötzelsberger on World Habitat Day

This 3rd of October is World Habitat Day! To celebrate the occasion, Elisabeth Pötzelsberger, Head of Resilience Programme at the European Forest Institute (EFI) and coordinator of the SUPERB project, explained the importance of “prestoration” – the combination of restoration and climate adaptation – for resilient and functional forest habitats. She discussed how it differs from classical restoration approaches, highlighted its relevance to the new EU Nature Restoration Law and listed concrete examples of how prestoration is being applied within the SUPERB demonstration areas in Germany and in the Czech Republic.

Watch the video interview on YouTube or read it below!

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What if digital art and augmented reality could bring us closer to the forests?

by Beatrice Bellavia

Can you evoke the typical scent of a forest? Close your eyes and imagine walking down a path of needles, that is all it takes. But did you know that trees are not only oxygen generators – but produce large amounts of volatile organic compounds?  It is basically as if they were breathing, and this is precisely where the unmistakable forest smell comes from. 

Recently, I have experienced how trees breath – but guess what: not in the forest, but in a museum. It happened when I approached the immersive installation „ATMOSPHERIC FOREST“. In this installation, thanks to the augmented reality technology, I was able to navigate through the „breathing“ trees of the Swiss forest of Pfynwald.  I watched the forest from the bottom up, followed the path through the tree trunk until it brought the eye far up above the trees – yes, like a bird.

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EFI-Experte und Waldbrandökologe Alex Held zu Gast bei hart aber fair 

Im Rahmen der ARD-Themenwoche „Dürre” hat auch die Politik-Talkshow hart aber fair am 29. August sich des Themas angenommen und über die Folgen der Dürre für Mensch und Natur diskutiert. In diesem Zusammenhang ging es natürlich auch um die Gefahr von Waldbränden und das Waldbrandjahr 2022, das bereits als trauriges „Rekordjahr“ bezeichnet wird. Dafür wurde unser EFI-Kollege Alex Held als Experte eingeladen. In einem Einzelgespräch mit Moderator Frank Plasberg räumte der WKR-Projektleiter und Waldbrandökologe mit Mythen über Waldbrand-Ursachen auf und erklärt, inwieweit Deutschland und unsere Wälder auf diese intensiven Brände vorbereitet sind.  

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Wrangling resilience from concept to forest management application

Record breaking temperatures, minimal rainfall, drying rivers and burning forests. The news from this summer show how acutely the warming climate is affecting our environment and lives. To me, the damages to forests due to fires, drought and insect outbreaks are particularly worrisome as we as a society are counting on forests to sequester our carbon emissions, to replace the fossil fuel products and to foster biodiversity that is rapidly declining. This concern on the capacity of forests to cope with increased disturbances started years ago and led me to pursue a PhD on forest resilience and how it could be improved with forest management. Now it is time to summarise my work from the last four years.

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Exploring Romanian forests – an unexpected journey

by Silke Jacobs, Sara Filipek, Gert-Jan Nabuurs & Bas Lerink

‘Timber Mafia’, ‘Notorious corruption’ and ‘Destruction of last virgin forests’. News articles about Romanian forests and their management are dominated by headlines like these or with a likewise tendency. But we were wondering: Is that really the only thing we should know about Romanian forests? Or are there also examples of good and sustainable forest management – as well as protection of primary forests? 

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36° und es wird noch heißer: Innen Interforst, Draußen Waldbrand

WKR als Aussteller beim BMEL Stand auf der Interforst in München

Zwischen dem 17-20 August stand bei der Messe München alles im Zeichen von Wald. Die Interforst ist die Leitmesse für Forstwirtschaft und Forsttechnik und vereinigt über 300 Aussteller und 31000 Besucher aus knapp 60 Ländern.

Auf Einladung des Bundesministeriums für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL) wurden 3 Projekte ausgewählt, die am Stand des Ministeriums auf der Interforst ihr Projekt vorstellen konnten. Das vom Waldklimafonds geförderte und am EFI Bonn ansässige Waldbrand-Klima-Resilienz Projekt war eines dieser Projekte. Die Einladung haben wir dankend angenommen und uns gefreut das Thema Waldbrand(management) unter die Leute zu bringen- und es ist brandaktuell. Während der Messetage überschlugen sich die Nachrichten von Waldbränden in Deutschland und ganz Europa. Parallel zu den Gesprächen vor Ort mit Besuchern, stieg auch das mediale Interesse für die Thematik und so haben die WKR Experten Alexander Held und Lindon Pronto an den Tagen verschiedensten Medien zahlreiche Interviews und Statements gegeben. Diese sind wichtiger Teil des WKR Projektziels, für das Thema Waldbrand zu sensibilisieren und auch das Konzept vom ganzheitlichen Waldbrandmanagement stärker in den Fokus der Öffentlichkeit zu bringen.

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