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Category: research

Investigating links between trade and biodiversity

Thanks to global trade, Western societies are not only wealthy but have also access to diverse products. From diapers for our babies or diesel for our cars to the dressing for our salad – the movement of goods in a globalized world allows us to have products for consumption that would otherwise not be available. These can often be everyday products and items taken for granted, so that we don’t necessarily even think of their origins. For example, a typical home would have wooden furniture like tables or shelves. They, or parts of them, could come from wood harvested in Central Africa. Or a common meal could consist of pork meat, where the pork was fed with soymeal processed from soybeans grown in Brazil. Unfortunately, the farming or harvesting of many goods – especially those of biomass like wood or soy – can have negative impacts on the biodiversity of ecosystems, including our forests. As such, the wooden furniture we buy or the pork we eat could be associated with biodiversity loss. In other words, trade becomes the mechanism that links our consumption habits to environmental damage abroad. But, how could we benefit from trade and conserve biodiversity at the same time? 

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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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“New legal initiatives towards deforestation-free supply chains will definitely be a game changer”

Interview by Gesche Schifferdecker & Rosa Castañeda

Dr. Gerhard Langenberger is an expert on sustainable land use policy working at giz, the German Corporation for International Cooperation. Before joining giz, Gerhard coordinated two large international joint research projects dealing with natural rubber for the University of Hohenheim. We talked about his field of expertise – natural rubber – and learned why discussions on deforestation didn’t play a dominant role in the rubber sector in the past. Furthermore, we wanted to find out about the challenges and opportunities for smallholder farmers in Asian countries as well as for international forest governance – and about the local and the international environment influence each other. We also explored responsibilities for companies and potential incentives for manufacturers to use materials from fair trade and sustainable sources. Finally, we learned what “deforestation-free” actually means – and how we as consumers can influence the market to reduce land degradation and support sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.

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A decision guide for choosing the right connectivity tools

If you are confused and intimidated by the sheer number of tools to analyze connectivity related questions, don’t worry. We feel you.

We’ve all been there – we have an interesting research question, we collected data, but we come to a screeching halt when we are faced with the numerous tools in the field of connectivity science. Every paper we read points us in a different direction, and at the end we are left wondering which one we should use and why.

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Improving forest resilience and enhancing biodiversity in European Forests: findings, experiences, and prospects

For two days, on June 28-29, over 50 marteloscope managers, researchers, and further forestry experts from more than 12 European countries participated in a workshop…

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How we can better understand our forest ecosystems with laser scanning

by Luiza Tyminska and Jean-Matthieu Monnet

If you want to investigate the influence of management on forest resilience after disturbances, you can of course put your walking shoes on and do field measurements. However, how can you evaluate forest areas of several hundreds of square kilometers? In forest science, we consider Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) a strong solution for mapping forest characteristics – including forests’ internal structure – at high resolution over wide areas. ALS is a remote sensing technology based on the emission of laser pulses. The laser light can penetrate the tree canopy and reflect on objects located inside the forest, or even by the ground. The Earth’s surface is then modelled as point clouds in three dimensions with geometric information on the height of the vegetation, but also on its internal structure. In the project Innovative forest management strategies for a resilient bioeconomy under climate change and disturbances (I-MAESTRO), we used ALS for two purposes: describing the forests to get an initial state for simulations, and analysing forest dynamics with repeated measurements.

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Expecting the unexpected: how to manage forest landscapes in a highly uncertain future?

In past blog posts we have been discussing how forest landscapes can be seen as interconnected and functional complex networks – and shown how network analysis can be combined with modelling and forest management. But is the so-called functional network approach really an efficient way to optimize forest landscape management and to promote ecological resilience in the face of unexpected global change stresses?

When we go hiking in the mountains, we know that before reaching an appealing and gratifying view we often need to walk up a few hundred meters inside a forest. Sounds natural, it has always been this way. We have cities, crop fields, grasslands, forests, rocky mountain peaks, etc. Forests are intrinsically part of our cultural landscape, and it is normal to think they will always be. Although such landscapes look simple, when we disentangle each single element, we realise that it is a very complex socio-ecological network, with both human and biophysical processes linked across different spatial and temporal scales.

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Between Theory and Reality Check: PyroLife trainings in Cyprus

Written by Isabeau Ottolini

Isabeau Ottolini is an Early Stage Researcher within the European ITN project, PyroLife. She is researching Community-based Communications on extreme wildfires. She will spend her secondment at the EFI Bonn Office.

Between 8-14 April, the EU funded PyroLife project held two training events on the island of Cyprus. This blog post shares what we, as Early Stage Researchers, did and learnt during the Risk Communication workshop and the in-field module of the Making Change in Wildfire Management: Science Policy Interaction training.

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Exploring the world of investigative journalism: Some takeaways from the panel session at the International Forest Policy Meeting (#IFPM4) 

From wildfires to deforestation in the tropics, journalism brings various forest-related issues to the public attention. Yet, one of the main concerns from the scientific communities is the issue of ‘speed over accuracy’, where many news journalists fail to report complex topics without providing contextual background. Particularly in the digital age, when the speed of news is faster than ever before, there is even more pressure on today’s news industry to report forest-related issues in a timely and accurate manner.  

The good news is that there is a wide variety of journalism practices that take serious consideration of the process for inquiry. In particular, investigative journalists take a unique approach to exploring the issues in depth before jumping to a quick conclusion. Many investigative journalists spend years following a single issue by working closely with scientific experts and mastering the skills to wrangle complex (and often unstructured) data to identify the links that no one has ever addressed in the news. 

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