Forests in Europe are expanding. Despite headlines highlighting threats to forests and their ecosystems, like deforestation and natural disturbances due to the climate crisis, Europe’s forested area is steadily growing. One reason is active afforestation, or planting trees, as a common approach to increase forest area, while forest owners or managers often plant species for future harvesting or other reasons, partially supported by governmental subsidies. Yet, this is not the only explanation for Europe’s growing forested area.
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.
“Go beyond your own border”, was the statement delivered by Hedwig Bruggeman, leader of the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, during a plenary session at the Global Landscape Forum (GLF). The event focused on the promotion of sustainable landscape management, based on a cross-disciplinary and inter-cultural approach.
The Global Landscape Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform led by the Centre for International Forestry Research. GLF 2018 took place in the city of Bonn on the 1st and 2nd of December. These days were very inspiring, filled with many stimulating discussions. Therefore, I will limit my story to the most engaging episodes, starting from a forest restoration talk, to an indigenous leaders’ dialogue and finishing with input from my EFI colleagues Jose Bolaños, who attended a discussion of the pillars on how to reach collaborative actions. As a junior researcher from the EFI Bonn office and active volunteer for GLF, I was involved in the organization and coordination of its very active Youth in Landscape delegation.
Planting trees is a longstanding traditional urban planning approach for improving liveability in cities. Dating back from the earliest urban societies such as the Roman Empire, urban planners have applied trees for bringing shade, mitigating temperature, rainfall and wind, and providing food and fodder for animals. Providing urban trees, parks and urban forests is probably one of the earliest applications of what is now termed “nature-based solutions”. Nature-based solutions are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.
Since 1995, the Bonn-based German expert for green impact investing ForestFinance has been planting forests in the project countries Panama, Peru, Colombia and Vietnam. Now, the reforestation company has just planted its ten millionth tree.
“In 2009, we planted and celebrated our millionth tree in Panama City in the presence of the Panamanian Minister of Environmental Affairs. Today – nine years later – we have increased this number tenfold. We have achieved this together with over 19,000 customers and environmentally conscious investors,” explains Harry Assenmacher, founder of the ForestFinance Group.
Programms of afforestation to create forests increase carbon capture and carbon sequestration, and help to anthropogenically improve biodiversity.
End of January, I (the urban forestry consultant at EFI’s Resilience Programme) was invited by the Beijing Forestry and Parks Department of International Cooperation for a study visit and a training on urban forestry. China is one of the leading countries when it comes to afforestation: in 2018 alone, about 6.6 million hectare new forests (or the size or Ireland) will be planted. The new forests are not only situated in the rural areas, but also in and near urban agglomerations. In the last Beijing province (area: 16.000 km², inhabitants: 22 million) for example, about 67.000 ha additional forest has been planted over five years, mainly for landscape and aesthetical reasons, but also for recreation purposes. In the next five years, they are aiming for an additional similar area.
The study tour started in one of the mayor urban redevelopment projects that Beijing has seen: the 2008 Olympic Quarter. The Olympic Park (680 ha) has been built on former built-up area and farmland, and is situated at the central North-South axis through Beijing which connects the Olympic Park with the central Tiananmen Square. The park includes an artificial lake where soil was reused for building an artificial hill. The composition of the park follows the traditional Chinese design of building with the back to the hills and the front to the water.
On 14th November 2017, in the context of the COP23, the Senate of the Economy together with the European Forest Institute and ForestFinest held a panel discussion on the private sector’s potential to contribute to climate protection. Prof. Dr. Dr. Franz-Josef Radermacher, president of the senate, gave an inspiring key-note speech on how to combat climate change and satisfy global needs at the same time and with that triggered a lively discussion with his fellow speakers. The speakers included EFI’s own Lukas Giessen, principal scientist on International Forest Governance, Anna Rösinger – director of We Forest and Dirk Walterspacher of ForestFinest Consulting. Dr. Christoph Brüssel, from the Senate of the Economy, moderated the discussion.