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Category: Forest conservation

An Orwellian debate on the national parks in Slovakia: What can a scientist do in a post-truth era?

Should we foster commodity production or biodiversity in our forests? Or try to integrate them both? When working on and with forests, certain tensions and occasional conflicts between representatives of forest management and nature conservation are a notorious part of our lives. In some places, the animosities are more obvious than in others, though integrative approaches are obviously gaining attraction. I share here my recent observations from Slovakia, my home country with diverse forests passing from the High Tatras with an iconic national park to the Danube Lowland with dry oak forests. Recent political decisions concerning the fate of our national parks upheaved society once again and made me realize how data and knowledge can be misused to back up any policy in place, rather than provide impartial grounds for knowledge-based decisions.

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Visit our new RESONATE web site!

We are very excited to announce the launch of our new RESONATE website. Now you can visit our home page, specially designed to offer the information you need about the resilience of European forests and associated value chains, and the project’s latest updates.

Our approach consists in offering customized information according to RESONATE’s different focal audiences, making it easier for you to navigate through the pages and find what you need.

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From the birds’ eye perspective to actions on the ground

SUPERB to promote forest restoration and adaptation across Europe

by Gesche Schifferdecker and Rina Tsubaki

Imagine you were a bird flying over Europe. You would see cities and villages, rivers, agricultural landscape, and forests covering almost one-third of Europe. You will distinguish many different types of trees: dark green or more reddish, straight and tall, wide and crooked or small and slender, with many different shapes of leaves or needles. While flying over Europe, you would also encounter damaged forest areas, burned down by the fire, or destroyed by bark beetles; and tree leaves affected by air pollution and herbivorous pests, or turning yellow and brown from a drought. These disturbances overall are becoming more frequent and severe, be it due to various short-sighted human interventions or ongoing climate change. Luckily, it is not all bad news. From the air, you would also see people working in these damaged forests, planting or seeding new trees, or protecting the naturally regenerating forest against grazing. You would discover people preserving surviving old trees or even the deadwood, because these people have understood how valuable they are for a functioning ecosystem. If done right and with some luck, a diverse and healthy forest will again develop, which will be roamed once more by the many forest creatures.

While there is a widespread awareness of the urgency to conserve and restore biodiversity and halt climate change, in fact much more actions are needed on the ground to ensure long-term thriving of forests in Europe. A series of political commitments at the European level are already in place, including the 2019 European Green Deal, the 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy and EU Forest Strategy 2030. Yet, in many places a transformative change is still needed on the ground.

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Global Forest Finance Pledge at the COP26: new ammunition in the fight against deforestation or just more of the same?

Under the umbrella of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the ongoing 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 124 countries have just signed a Declaration on Forests and Land Use,[1] (from now on referred to as the Glasgow Declaration) as of 2 November 2021. The declaration sets out to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 and facilitate a sustainable land-use transition. Substantial progress has also been made with regards to the mobilisation of finances for forests. For instance, as part of issuing a Global Forest Finance Pledge,[2] the EU, Canada, United Kingdom, Norway, South Korea, and the United States of America have announced that they will provide 12 billion USD of public climate finance between 2021-2025. This financial pledge will aim to support action on restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires, and advancing the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. It can also be noted that the national governments of 28 countries have committed to removing deforestation from the global trade of food and other agricultural products such as palm oil, soya and cocoa. These are industries that, in part, drive global deforestation (e.g., forest loss generated by the demand for agricultural land). In connection with the Glasgow Declaration, major financial companies have likewise made additional commitments to end investments in activities linked to deforestation.

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Die Neue Europäische Waldstrategie – Bevormundung oder eine Vision für alle?

Nachhaltige Waldbewirtschaftung durch Flächenprämien fördern, die Holzernte nur noch innerhalb von Nachhaltigkeitsgrenzen durchführen und finanzielle Unterstützung für besondere Umweltleistungen garantieren – dies sind nur einige Punkte der neuen europäischen Waldstrategie für 2030, die schon in ihrem Entstehungsprozess in Deutschland und auch in vielen anderen europäischen Ländern kontrovers diskutiert wurde. Die Waldstrategie für 2030 wurde vor Kurzem von der EU-Kommission als eine der Leitinitiativen des europäischen „Green Deal“ auf den Weg gebracht. Sie hat das Ziel, die vielfältigen Funktionen der Wälder miteinzubeziehen, auch in Referenz zur EU-Biodiversitätsstrategie für 2030.

Während Umweltschützer*innen den zu großen Einfluss der Holzwirtschaft und der nationalen Regierungen bemängeln, der in den Augen eines manchen ein „weich gespültes Papier“ zum Resultat hat, entgegnen andere, die Strategie ginge zu weit: Besonders Förster*innen und Waldbesitzer*innen sehen sich teilweise in der Bewirtschaftung ihrer Wälder bevormundet und fürchten Enteignung und/oder zukünftige Abhängigkeit von EU-Subventionen.

Diese und zahlreiche weitere Perspektiven wurden am 23. September in einem Webinar zur europäischen Waldstrategie beleuchtet und diskutiert, das vom deutschen Ministerium für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft sowie der Vertretung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen bei der Europäischen Union organisiert wurde.

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From research to action: the future of Old-growth Forests in Europe

Despite making up a small fraction of forest area in Europe, primary and old-growth forests generate heated debates given their importance for biodiversity conservation and provision of many ecosystem services. However, due to the complexity surrounding these forests, discussions sometimes seem to circle indefinitely. Inputs from the latest scientific research are therefore exceptionally valuable, especially when it comes to guiding policy implementation on their protection.

On September 21st, 2021, a webinar on two recently published studies on primary and old-growth forests held by the Commission Working Group on Forests and Nature (sub-working group of the Co-coordination Group for Biodiversity and Nature) provided such an opportunity. EFI presented its recent study, Protecting old-growth forests in Europe – a review of scientific evidence to inform policy implementation. Following, José Barredo gave insight to the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) report on Mapping and assessment of primary and old-growth forests in Europe. The Working Group, which aims to progress the process to define, map, monitor, and strictly protect EU’s primary and old-growth forests, hosted the webinar with the goal of raising awareness of the two studies among the group’s members, as well as to discuss how the scientific findings could inform their ongoing process.

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Marteloskope – Selbstüberprüfung des forstlichen Götterblickes

Hans von der Goltz, Jakob Derks

Am 29.-30. Juni diesen Jahres fand die jährliche Vorstandssitzung der ANW (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Naturgemäße Waldwirtschaft) unter dem Vorsitz von Hans von der Goltz und organisiert von Johannes Odrost statt. Zu diesem Anlass trafen sich die hochrangigen Forstexpert*innen in Massow, einem Forstrevier, das der Hatzfeldt-Wildenburg’schen Verwaltung gehört und von ihr verwaltet wird. Der Wald erstreckt sich über rund 7000 Hektar und wird überwiegend von der Waldkiefer dominiert. Die jahrzehntelange nachlässige Bewirtschaftung hatte zu dichten, überalterten Kiefernmonokulturen mit wenig Unterwuchs und Artenvielfalt geführt. Auf den kargen Sandböden Brandenburgs macht das die Bestände anfällig für Trockenheit und Brände. Mit dem Erwerb des Waldes durch die Hatzfeldt-Wildenburg’sche Verwaltung vor etwa zwanzig Jahren wurde eine neue Bewirtschaftungsweise eingeführt. Das Hauptziel besteht darin, die Widerstandsfähigkeit des Waldes zu erhöhen, indem die strukturelle Vielfalt maximiert, die natürliche Verjüngung gefördert und die Beimischung verschiedener Arten, gegebenenfalls durch Anpflanzung, begünstigt wird. Nach Jahren konsequenter selektiver Durchforstung, verbunden mit einer intensiven Bejagung und der gezielten Einbringung verschiedener Baumarten, hat sich der Wald verändert. Er ist deutlich üppiger, grüner und strukturreicher als die meisten benachbarten Bestände.

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Insights on “Engaging with Media” Workshop

What makes forest-related topics newsworthy? How can we humanize our stories and constantly create better engagement with readers, without repeating the same story over and over?

Media plays a vital role informing about forest-related issues, especially when linked to the role forests play in climate change. However, these topics are often very complex and thus difficult to explain in detail to a general public so that they have a clear understanding of how for instance, climate change is affecting the state of forests. Furthermore, media is often attracted by specific narratives, for example the potential of forests to mitigate climate change and attempts to “sell” forests as the ultimate solution – which is too short-sighted. Thus, we need to find ways to tell stories entailing important and correct information in a way that people can relate to and empathize with. But how can we achieve that?

Discussions around these topics are tackled in our communications training series, an initiative from the European Integrate Network secretariat. In our second workshop “Engaging with Media,” taking place on 24th June 2021 as a virtual event, we learned about the many challenges faced but also solutions that scientists, journalists, politicians, and practitioners can offer when communicating about forests.

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