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Category: Forest Trends

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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Combining silviculture and ecology to benefit our forests – the Irish way

Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe that experienced almost complete deforestation in recent history with just over 1% forest cover remaining at the beginning of the 1900s. Since then, an impressive effort has been made by the State of Ireland and other stakeholders to increase forest cover – but the Irish plan to plant forests has also faced a lot of criticism. I have spoken with three experts on Irish forests: Jonathan Spazzi, Forestry Development Officer working for Teagasc, Aileen O’Sullivan, Environmental Technical Lead for Coillte Forest, as well as Padraig O Tuama, private forestry consultant specialising in clients interested in Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) and former task leader for researching and promoting Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) in Coillte Teo.

They have all joined forces to promoting the Continuous Cover Forest management (CCF) approach, to increase species diversity and forest conservation in Irish forests while as well enhancing timber value. As a proper tool to support their efforts both Teagasc and Coillte, in collaboration with ProSilva Ireland, have decided to establish several marteloscope sites in different forest types. Check out this interview to learn what has happened so far in Irish forestry, how the three would like to shape the future of their forests, and what they expect from working with marteloscopes.

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Old-growth forests, new policy implications

EFI report contributes to debate on how to achieve old-growth forest protection targets in the EU

If you ask stakeholders all over Europe “How should we address the remaining old-growth forests?”, you can expect eyebrows to be raised. Most of us agree that despite covering only a small fraction of Europe’s land area, old-growth and other primary forests play an important role in biodiversity conservation and in the provision of other ecosystem services. But other aspects of the topic are constantly debated. Discussions of old-growth forests also have new policy implications, as the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 sets the target to strictly protect all remaining EU primary and old-growth forests. This is part of a wider objective to strictly protect 10% of EU land area.

However, the path to protection is not so straight forward. It starts with questions continuing to circle at policy level and in academia on how old-growth forest should be defined. Similarly, we face unresolved issues on how to implement the targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Aiming at informing discussions related to these questions, European Forest Institute (EFI) recently released a study titled ‘Protecting old-growth forests in Europe – a review of scientific evidence to inform policy implementation’.

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Mit Forschung Waldzukunft in Nordrhein-Westfalen gestalten

Umweltministerin Heinen-Esser: „Die Wissenschaft leistet einen wichtigen Beitrag zur Waldbewirtschaftung im Klimawandel und bei der Wiederbewaldung der geschädigten Flächen.“

Die Entwicklung der Waldzukunft stand im Mittelpunkt der zweitägigen virtuellen Forschungskonferenz, die heute Mittag zu Ende gegangen ist. Rund 60 Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler diskutierten aktuelle Erkenntnisse und Forschungsansätze. Übergeordnetes Ziel war und ist der Aufbau klimastabiler Wälder mit ihren vielfältigen Funktionen für die Gesellschaft. „Die Wissenschaft leistet einen wichtigen Beitrag zur Waldbewirtschaftung im Klimawandel und bei der Wiederbewaldung der geschädigten Flächen“, betonte Umweltministerin Ursula Heinen-Esser die Rolle der Wissenschaft bei der Bewältigung der anstehenden Herausforderungen anlässlich der Veranstaltung. 

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Marteloscopes and Carbon – a missing piece of the puzzle?

Witten by Huntley Brownell and Andrew Stratton

Many readers of this blog are likely familiar with marteloscopes (if not, click here to read more). We think our story demonstrates the remarkable educational potential of this tool, and we would like to share it with you.

Our story begins deep in the Black Forest, outside of Freiburg in Germany. It was long, long ago, before corona times: the autumn of 2018. We were part of a group of MSc students studying Forest and Nature Management on a study tour from the University of Copenhagen, and we were brought to visit the Rosskopf marteloscope.

By now we all understand the limitations of virtual meetings; back then the forty of us, carefree and not at all socially distanced, took for granted the vibrant educational environment of in-person learning. With tablets in hand, groups of students and professors explored the marteloscope, observing, discussing, debating – sometimes passionately – the harvesting trade-offs we were considering in the exercise. Questions arose: how will our decisions affect stand biodiversity? How will the stand develop in the future if we harvest certain trees now? Are some microhabitats more important than others? What is biodiversity anyway? How much is that tree worth?

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“Unser Wald stirbt vor unseren Augen” – spannender Doku-Tipp

Stürme, Trockenheit, Borkenkäfer – unsere deutschen Wälder standen in den vergangenen Jahren vor großen Herausforderungen.

Wussten Sie, dass viele Förster*innen in den letzten Jahren nicht nur mit großen Waldschäden zu kämpfen hatten, sondern auch unter Druck geraten sind, wenn sie wieder aufforsten müssen? Können Sie sich vorstellen, wie unser Wald in 100 Jahren aussehen wird? Was genau muss getan werden, um die Resilienz der Wälder zu erhöhen?

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Invitation to Virtual Conference “Payments for Ecosystem Services: Forest for Water”

The PESFOR-W COST action is inviting you to its final conference. PESFOR-W is looking into the positive impact that woodlands and trees can have on water quality, and how the instruments of payments for ecosystem services (PES, also called eco-schemes) can co-fund tree-based interventions by land owners and land managers. The aim of the PESFOR-W COST Action is to synthesize knowledge, provide guidance and encourage collaborative research to improve Europe’s capacity to use Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) to achieve Water Framework Directive (WFD) targets & other policy objectives through incentives for planting woodlands to reduce agricultural diffuse pollution to watercourses.

The conference will introduce the state-of-the-art in the field, and will showcase the work done by the members of the COST action. Three stakeholders from policy, science and practice will illustrate what Woodland-for-Water PES can do and how they implement them.

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Life after recovery: how Scots pine trees compensate for drought

Did you know that researchers have linked extreme drought events to losses in forest productivity and widespread tree mortality on every forested continent on earth? As a result of climate change, in the coming decades we expect these drought events to increase in frequency, duration and intensity in many parts of the world, posing an emerging set of challenges at a scale that many contemporary forests have so far not had to deal with. This in turn means that we need to understand how forests respond to, and recover from, such events across a range of both temporal and spatial scales to ensure our forests are resilient to the challenges of a future climate. This understanding must cover everything from how between-tree variability buffers against stand-level change, which tree and stand attributes and management practices confer resilience, how different species growing in different locations respond to similar types of drought and what the long-term implications of these events mean for biodiversity, forest carbon, stand structure and forest growth, amongst many others. In our recent paper “Life after recovery: Increased resolution of forest resilience assessment sheds new light on post‐drought compensatory growth and recovery dynamics” published in the Journal of Ecology (Ovenden et al. 2021), we look at the recovery of trees after drought from a new perspective.

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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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