Close-To-Nature Forestry across Europe

A short report on the annual Pro Silva Europa meeting in Weimar, Germany

Pro Silva is a European federation of professional foresters across 24 European countries (and more recently in New England, USA) who advocate and promote Pro Silva Close to Nature Forest Management Principles as an alternative to age-class forestry to create and maintain resilient forest ecosystems. Increasing forest resilience was also the motivation to create Pro Silva 29 years ago.

This year, the annual meeting was hosted by ANW Thuringia and the state forest administration of Thuringia in and around the city of Weimar on 20-23 June 2018. The Pro Silva Program addressed topics such as forest conversion from age-class to continuous-cover forestry, re-introduction of silver fir (and other climate-change-relevant tree species) and the ungulate-silviculture challenge of converting European forests to more biodiverse, stable and resilient forests.

Bark beetle outbreaks and the future of European forests

Discussing solutions and searching for more resilience forests

How are different European countries dealing with bark beetle outbreaks and which role do questions like sanitary cutting, monitoring systems, forest ownership, windstorms and expectations towards nature conservation play? What are the challenges regarding climate change? How do the social perception of active and inactive forest management impact forester’s activities in local forests? Which tools should be used to cope with natural disturbances and how we can educate foresters, policy makers, and other relevant stakeholders? Following the invitation of the Polish Ministry of Environment and the Polish State Forests, we discussed these and more issues in the Białowieża Forest during a working seminar of the European Network INTEGRATE from 25-27 June 2018.

Deconstructing a complex future for the forest-based sector

Informed decision-making requires information from both past experiences and knowledge about the future. This also applies to forest-based sector – especially when considering challenges like climate change mitigation or biodiversity conservation. While the future can be difficult to predict, one way to analyse it is to use scenario-planning methods. However, the use of scenario is also a process of priority-setting, more specifically, scenarios are a reflection of sectoral, public and other development priorities. Having this in mind, the paper Deconstructing a complex future: Scenario development and implications for the forest-based sector which is published in Forest Policy and Economics reviews how the use of scenarios may affect EU forest-related policy.

Forest Policy means Resilience – Wageningen Meeting

What do we mean when we talk about forest policy and governance? We also mean resilience. The Second International Forest Policy Meeting has presented it quite clearly.

More than hundred participants from 20 countries attended the Second International Forest Policy Meeting which took place in Wageningen between 11th and 13th of April. During the event, participants discussed four main themes: 1. Forest governance, 2. International policy&politics, 3. Community&society, and 4. Conflict&control. They could undeniably experience that forest policy is way more than the actions of powerful actors operated within an institutional structure and enhanced by bureaucracy.

Establishing a European Forest Risk Facility

From pests and insect damages to megafires and storm events – European forests are affected by diverse and often transnational disturbances, with profound impacts on forest ecosystem services and livelihoods. In response to these challenges the European Forest Institute (EFI) together with risk management stakeholders from all over Europe is establishing the European Forest Risk Facility, an innovative platform of exchange and knowledge transfer on forest disturbances, risk prevention and management. Connecting science, practice and policy, the constitution of the Risk Facility is one of the main objectives of the project SUstaining and Enhancing the REsilience of European Forests (SURE) coordinated by EFI’s Bonn Office. The Risk Facility collects and distributes data and information for a better understanding of forest risks and facilitates the exchange of good practices, ultimately enabling better-informed decisions in natural resource management and policy.

Cui bono? – Discussing aerial forest firefighting

A rough estimate of (business) interest in aerial firefighting

In general, only 10% of a fire management budget is spent on fuel load management for prevention and 90 % are spent on fire suppression. In these 90% the majority again is dedicated to aerial assets. This article would like to stimulate a reflection on how to create more balance in the use of fire management budget. 

This compilation of thoughts on the monetary benefits of aerial firefighting is not intended to be conclusive, but rather a suggestion –  a suggestion that hopefully provokes further conversation among diverse stakeholders about how the urgently needed balance between fire suppression (response) and land- and forest management (prevention, mitigation, resilience) can be reached.

This short text does clearly not intend to say we do not need aerial firefighting. Of course we need any support that we can get while fighting unwanted fires. The intention however is to motivate equivalent political will and budget for prevention and mitigation, for increasing the resilience of the land and to make firefighting safer and more effective.

Creating a sustainable and inclusive forest-based bioeconomy in Europe

New EFI study assesses the scientific evidence

by Rach Colling

The bioeconomy has mobilised significant investments in technology, research and innovation. New and innovative bio-products and related services have emerged, and related niche markets show dynamic growth. The future of the bioeconomy, however, raises questions relating to its development potential, but also its sustainability.

The science-based study Towards a sustainable European forest-based bioeconomy – assessment and the way forward provides a synthesis of existing knowledge for policymakers on the importance of forests and the forest-based sector in contributing to the future European bioeconomy. It assesses the economic, social and environmental sustainability of a forest-based bioeconomy, and looks at issues that may affect its development.

Introducing: European Network INTEGRATE

The European network INTEGRATE is currently comprised of 16 European member states and involves 50 representatives of policy and research related to forest and environment as well as the European commission. Its main objective is to encourage the international exchange of success stories on integrated forest management, which implies the integration of nature conservation into sustainable forest management.

The network was initially brought into life by German federal minister Christian Schmidt and his Czech colleague Marian Jurêcka, and subsequently supported by the European Commission’s Standing Forestry Committee. Forest management challenges related to nature conservation are rather similar across Europe. States within and outside the EU already plan on being actively involved in the network. INTEGRATE member states will provide forest areas on which their successful management strategies can be exemplified.

Kick-off Workshop of Integrated Forest Management Learning Architecture (InForMAr)

The Kick-off workshop of the project Integrated Forest Management Learning Architecture (InForMAr) will take place on 7th and 8th of December 2017 in the new premises of European Forest Institute’s Bonn Office.

Altogether around 30 European policy stakeholders and scientists will meet to discuss goals of the InForMAr project. The participants’ task will be to look at relevant questions relating to the integration of nature conservation in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) through integrated forest management approaches in Europe. This involves e.g. the discussion of forest functions, of socioeconomic driving factors and how they determine the work of practitioners as well as the question of how forest policy can better support the implementation of integrative forest management.
The workshop aim is to build a network of practitioners, scientists and European policy stakeholders interested in the issue of integrated forest management. The result of the discussions of the workshop will be used by the InForMAr researchers and will be examined for the next stage of the project.
The keynote speakers incude: Yoan Paillet (IRSTEA), Lena Gustafsson (SLU), Metodi Sotirov (University of Freiburg), Susanne Winter (WWF Deutschland), Peter Löffler (DG Environment), Eckart Senitza (Pro Silva Europe), Robert Flies (Luxembourg Private Forest Owners).
Keynote speeches will be followed by group discussions focusing on driving forces for integrated forest management. During the event the movie, “Wise use of our forests: the integrative approach” produced by InForMAr researcher Andreas Schuck will be screened.

The InForMAr Project is funded and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and follows the projects Integrate and Integrate+.

Palm oil plantation (photo by Tim Cadman)

Governing the forests: how fiscal instruments can act as a (dis)incentive to reducing emissions

In recent years, the concept of ‘governance’ rather than ‘government’ has become a popular term for describing the interactions between stakeholders in the sustainable development policy arena. In this context, especially in the arena of forest management, it is used to describe the structures and processes that steer, or co-ordinate the relations between multi-stakeholders (government, business, civil society). Usually, governance refers to human actors, but there are other forces that exercise influence over how forests are managed. One of the most important of all these, is that most essential resource: money. This brief report outlines the role that public finance, and most importantly the fiscal instruments developed by governments, can have a considerable influence over the fate of the world’s forests.

Research undertaken by the author in 2016-2017 investigated the extent to which fiscal incentives encouraged, or discouraged, private sector involvement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiative known as REDD+ (“Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries”).

In Indonesia, REDD+ has been recognized as a potentially significant source of revenue, while at the same time providing an important incentive to contribute to reductions in global deforestation. However, in a series of interviews and surveys, forest-based business stakeholders identified a number of issues impacting on their ability to undertake activities that would lead to reducing deforestation and forest degradation, and emissions.