How the European Network Integrate is raising awareness for forests by inviting society into the woods of Europe
On 21 March 2020, the International Day of Forests was planned to be celebrated with activities taking place all over the world. The day is about raising awareness of the importance of forests, and this years’ theme was Forests and Biodiversity. Like with many other cases these days, the COVID-19 pandemic required activities to be cancelled. Creative virtual alternatives were made and the FAO, as the principal initiator of International Day of forests, conducted an online event instead (http://www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/en/). During the event, it was underlined that much of our planet’s biodiversity is found in forests, and therefore “The conservation of the world’s biodiversity depends on how we use and look after our forests,” said Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, FAO.
The emphasis on biodiversity fits into the aim of the European Network Integrate to advance forest management approaches for the integration of nature conservation into sustainable forest management. This is done at three levels: the decision-making policy level, the level of forest practitioners/managers, and the level of forest research and academic knowledge. The Network currently comprises close to 20 European Member States (both EU and non-EU countries) and involves about 50 representatives of policy and research related to forests and environment as well as the European Commission. As part of this initiative, close to 100 Marteloscope demonstration sites have been established all over Europe. Marteloscopes are silvicultural training sites of usually one hectare in which all trees are numbered, mapped and recorded. Using an evaluation and simulation software, virtual tree selection exercises can be performed. The training includes the identification of key habitat elements and structures, which is a crucial pre-requisite for the integration of biodiversity conservation aspects into commercial forest management. The application of different management goals and their effects on the economic and ecological values of the stand can then be objectively discussed by the participants onsite.