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Category: Forest Trends

Happy 25th Anniversary, EUFORGEN!

Written by Ewa Hermanowicz & Maria Schlossmacher

2019 marks a milestone for EUFORGEN as it signifies 25 years since its establishment in 1994 – a time to reflect on what has been achieved and to look forward to the future. 25 years have shown that EUFORGEN was able to strengthen capacities in member countries to build a strong network and to start implementing a coordinated pan-European strategy on the genetic conservation of forest trees.

Founded as a result of a resolution adopted by the 1st Ministerial Conference of the Forest Europe process, EUFORGEN aims to make the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources an integral part of sustainable forest management. The resolution called for the establishment of a voluntary instrument for cooperation on conservation of genetic diversity of European forests and EUFORGEN became that instrument.

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“Watching trees grow, shrink, drink and breathe”

“This oak tree and me, we’re made of the same stuff, ” Carl Sagan, one of the most inspiring science communicators of the 20th Century once said. But what did he mean?

Probably, he thought of Darwin and his famous universal tree of life, that was used not only as a metaphor, but also as a model and research tool. Furthermore, by choosing an oak tree as a comparison, Sagan might have referred to himself being strong, tall, long-standing. More generally, his quote could refer to the ancient relationship of human beings and the forest. And finally, Carl Sagan obviously used a personification to relate to the tree, to “humanize” it – a common approach in science communication.

By “humanizing” nature, we create empathy. That is one reason why German forester Peter Wohlleben’s book “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—” was so successful. However, Wohlleben is quite controversially discussed among both foresters and scientists. “Not scientific enough,” researchers say. “Too emotional,” forest practitioners complain.

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A SINCERE interest in forest ecosystem services

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” -John Muir

Forests have more to offer than timber and wood products. Through its multifunctional nature, it provides several other goods and services such as carbon sequestration, erosion control and the provision of clean water. These benefits which people obtain from forests can collectively be referred to as “forest ecosystem services”.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) 2005 report classifies ecosystem services into three categories:

  • Provisioning services (e.g. food, fresh water, firewood)
  • Regulatory services (e.g. climate regulation, carbon sequestration)
  • Cultural ecosystem services (nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences)
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Polish-German exchange on wildfire prevention

Written by Michael Herrmann, ForestFireWatch and Alexander Held

„One firefighter within the first 15 minutes is worth more in the forest than 100 firefighters after an hour” – motto of Polish forest fire protection services, emphasizing the importance of initial attack

From 6-7 June 2019, Polish forest officers from the State Forests organization, firefighter and representatives of the Forest Research Institute met with members of the German volunteer organization “ForestFireWatch” for an exchange of knowledge and experience in Rzepin (Forest District), Poland. Main objective of the meeting was the exchange of experience in the field of wildfire prevention.

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The SDG-tenure nexus in forest landscapes: applying a rights-based approach

written by Lukas Giessen, Pia Katila and Maria Schlossmacher

As a chartered member of the Global Landscape Forum (GLF), EFI Bonn was delighted to host a jointly organized event together with our long-term partners and friends from IUFRO-WFSE, FAO, and Luke at the GLF in Bonn, Sunday 23 June 2019.

Through an introductory presentation by Pia Katila (IUFRO-WFSE, Luke) followed by a panel discussion, several questions were discussed: How are tenure and rights included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?  What is the evidence on the links between rights/tenure and sustainable landscapes? Why has the progress on strengthening tenure rights of local communities been so low? And what are the most promising approaches to strengthening the link?

The SDGs call for equal access and rights to land and other productive resources. Pia Katila noted that rural land rights are implicitly included in three SDGs: SDG 1 on poverty, SDG 2, on hunger and SDG 5, on gender. However, tenure and rights are instrumental for moving forward with several other SDGs as well, such as e.g. SDG 8 on employment and economic growth.  They are also crucial for SDG 10 to reduce inequality within and among countries, SDG 14 to conserve and sustainably use coastal areas and mangrove forests and SDG 15 on protection and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests.

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What can we learn from science about Białowieża

On 15 May, Malgorzata Blicharska (Uppsala University) presented the findings of the Białowieża Science Initiative in the Permanent Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union in Brussels. EFI researchers, together with other representatives from academia, policy, forestry, nature conservation agencies and media debated on how to use the lesson learnt from the Białowieża Forest for other areas in Europe facing similar challenges.

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Können wir durch großflächige Wiederbewaldung den Klimawandel stoppen?

This blog post was translated and is now available in English here

Letzte Woche hat das Magazin Science eine viel beachtete Studie der Arbeitsgruppe von Prof. Crowther vom Institut für Integrative Biologie der ETH Zürich publiziert, in der mithilfe von Satellitenaufnahmen, Felddaten und Computermodellen das enorme Potential von großflächiger Waldvermehrung für den globalen Klimaschutz herausgestellt wurde.

Das Besondere an dieser Studie ist der Fokus auf „Restoration“, also Wiederbewaldung. Es gibt viele Abschätzungen zu CO2 Minderungspotenzialen durch Aufforstungen, und es ist wichtig, bei solchen Abschätzungen den Landbedarf einer wachsenden Weltbevölkerung sowie aus anderen Sektoren realistisch abzuschätzen (Canadell and Schulze 2014). Die Autoren der Studie haben daher von der global theoretisch möglichen Waldfläche den Flächenbedarf für Landwirtschaft und Siedlungen abgezogen. Als Resultat ergab sich eine riesige Fläche von fast 1 Mrd ha für potenzielle Wiederbewaldung.

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rescEU put into practice!…partially.

The current heat wave does not only create a feeling of summer holidays but above all, it puts fire and rescue services as well as foresters on constant alert.

At the same time, the rescEU plan is getting into its next phase, which is good news. RescEU is the common European response to disasters by strengthening the EU’s collective ability to react.

Especially in consideration of the high risks of forest fires, the Commission has launched the first fleet of firefighting aircraft under the new rescEU systems, consisting of two aircraft from Croatia, one aircraft from France, two aircraft from Italy, two aircrafts from Spain, and six helicopters from Sweden. The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides stated: “With rescEU, we have put words into action. We have delivered a practical tool for citizens that can save thousands of lives in the future. RescEU means having a much stronger, pan-European civil protection system.”

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Spirituality of the urban forest

Written by Joshua Amaitum Elukut

“When we pay attention to nature’s music, we find that everything on earth contributes to its harmony.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan

Twenty first century cities are characterized by tall skyscrapers, high residential densities, improved public transport infrastructure, as well as buildings of historical heritage. More people are moving from rural to urban areas, with the proportion of global urban population set to increase from 14% in 1900 to over 66% in 2025.

It is unfortunate that despite this trend, many urban areas lack adequate green infrastructure thus the ratio of green areas to built up areas is low. This gives inhabitants the feeling that they live in a ‘concrete jungle’ and are divorced from the natural world, contrary to earlier times when trees had a dominant influence upon human life and were sacred in many cultures.  

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