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The challenge of managing forests for multiple ecosystem services in a changing world

On 26-28 February 2020, about 200 scientists – forest ecologists, economists, policy analysts and conservationists – as well as interested stakeholders, students and practitioners from Europe and beyond gathered together at the Ceasar Research Centre in Bonn, Germany, to discuss scientific evidence relating to the current state of ‘integrated’ forest management approaches across the globe. Here’s my attempt of a short reportage of three very dense – but extremely interesting – days in the European Forest City 2020. 

Whether you are a regular reader of the Resilience blog or you ended up here by clicking a link in social media, one thing is clear: you are interested in forests. And you are interested to know how forests can be managed in an optimal way, so they provide not only wood but many ecosystem services (for example clean water, recreation, habitat, protection) to our busy society. Well, unfortunately there is not a universal recipe for this. Ecological conditions of forests as well as their governance, policies, and human societies surrounding them are very different across the globe. On top of that, our world is changing with a pace that is faster than the ability of forests to adapt to novel conditions. This demands us to bring together ideas for ‘integrated’ forest management solutions to face major global challenges. This was the reason why the European Forest Institute (EFI) in collaboration with several other research institutions and projects  organised the conference Governing and managing forests for multiple ecosystem services across the globe”.

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Wald im Wandel: mein Interview mit dem Wandermagazin

Der Wald bietet Antworten auf eine Vielzahl von sozialen und ökologischen Fragen. Forschungsprojekte des European Forest Institute haben jedoch festgestellt, dass die breite Öffentlichkeit über forstbezogene Themen häufig nicht umfassend informiert ist. Dazu gehört zum Beispiel, dass Menschen gerne Holzmöbel kaufen, aber gleichzeitig eine Bewirtschaftung der Wälder oft kritisch gesehen wird. Wir brauchen eine engagierte Kommunikation zwischen dem Forstsektor und der breiten Gesellschaft, um diese Verständnislücke zu schließen. Als internationale Wissenschaftsorganisation arbeitet EFI auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen (von lokal zu global) und mit vielfältigen Akteuren und Interessengruppen. Dazu zählt natürlich die Wissenschaft, aber auch Forstpraktiker*innen sowie Vertreter*innen von Politik, Gesellschaft und den Medien. Über die Veröffentlichung von wissenschaftlicher Literatur hinaus sind wir auch offen für den Austausch von Erfahrungen und Informationen über nicht-akademische Plattformen. Ein Beispiel dafür ist das Wandermagazin, eine etablierte deutsche Zeitschrift, die über Wandern und Erholung in der Natur berichtet. Sein Publikum ist typischerweise sehr an der Natur interessiert, aber nicht unbedingt fachkundig. Die Redakteurin Svenja Walter hat sich deshalb entschlossen, eine Sonderausgabe mit dem Schwerpunkt Wald in Deutschland herauszugeben. Neben einem Förster und einem Naturschützer wurde ich interviewt, um eine Einführung zum Zustand der Wälder in Europa und speziell in Deutschland zu geben.

Den Artikel können Sie hier lesen (auf Deutsch). Ich wünsche Ihnen eine anregende Lektüre!

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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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Schools’ Reaction to Fridays for Future: “Green Campus Day” in Freiburg

by Sonja Mewes

The Fridays for Future movement has received not only a lot of attention but also support in our University Town of Freiburg in the south of Germany. This led the Montessori School ANGELL in Freiburg – where I am teaching – to reflect on how to channel this energy of the students to engage and work on concrete projects related to climate change and environment.
In this context, the Montessori Zentrum ANGELL decided to launch an initiative called ‘The Green Campus Day’ on November 15th, 2019. Our teachers suggested a range of projects in the area of climate change, biodiversity, waste reduction and upcycling. We selected all these projects on the basis that our students would learn about their contributions to reduce their carbon footprint, their impact on biodiversity and waste reduction. It was up to the students to select a project of their choice. The age of the students in our group ranged from 12 to 18 years.

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Integrating nature protection into forest management the Danish way

Did you know that Denmark has a relatively low forest cover of 14 percent, but nonetheless has great ambitions regarding the ecosystem services they wish those forests to provide? All the more reason to understand more about how they integrate different forest functions into forest management.

I had the chance to find out more about Danish sustainable forest management – or Close-to-Nature Silviculture, as the Danes would call their particular brand – when I participated in the most recent meeting of the European Network INTEGRATE , which is currently chaired by the Danish Nature Agency.

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Discussions of economic impacts and long-term benefits of Integrated Forest Management

French forest professionals visit forest enterprise in Germany

Within European Forest Institute, we frequently organize Exchange of Experts (EoE) to share knowledge on integrative forest management concepts. With foresters from the French Office National des Forêts, we recently co-organised and participated in an EoE addressing nature conservation managers, forest contractors and representatives from local municipalities. In a two-day excursion event they were introduced to the integrative forest management concept applied in the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise of Ebrach, Germany.

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Helping journalists report on complex science

On 11-12 July 2019, nine journalists from six media teams visited the Białowieża Forest to attend the ‘Sound Co-Lab Reporting’ – a workshop introducing audio storytelling techniques to report on forest-related issues. The workshop was part of the Lookout Station which aims to bridge the gap between science and media and bring innovation to newsrooms. The event was organized in collaboration with EUFORGEN to bring forest genetics onto the map of interconnected issues needed to decipher today’s complex problems.

Białowieża Forest, a UNESCO-protected site on the border between Poland and Belarus, is known worldwide for its high conservation value and for a history of controversy over conservation and forest management.

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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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