Upcoming webinar: European forest restoration: urgently needed but where and how?

Forest restoration is not all roses – it comes with a range of challenges, too. Therefore, implementing and upscaling restoration measures is essential for their successful restoration. In our upcoming webinar “European forest restoration: urgently needed but where and how?” organized by SUPERB and IUFRO‘s Task Force ‘Transforming Forest Landscapes for Future Climates and Human Well-Being’ we will discuss how the habitat status of Europe’s forests is currently assessed, and what role data provided by National Forest Inventories can play to inform about forest restoration in Europe. We will also take a deep plunge into our SUPERB demo areas and discover the real-life challenges they are facing to implement restoration on the ground.

Join us on 8th February 4-6pm CET and register here.

FSC revising Ecosystem Services Procedure: call for experts

News from SUPERB’s Advisory Board member FSC

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) invites you to participate in the first public consultation of the revised draft procedure from 16 January – 17 March 2023 via the FSC Consultation Platform.

In 2022, with its FSC-PRO-30-006 Ecosystem Services Procedure, FSC has set out the requirements for FSC-certified forest managers to credibly demonstrate the impact of their activities on the maintenance, conservation, restoration or enhancement of ecosystem services. The aim was to providing them with improved access to ecosystem services markets through the use of FSC ecosystem services claims.

FSC particularly welcomes feedback from FSC Members, FSC-certified forest managers, certification bodies, project developers, sponsors of FSC-certified forests, FSC Network Partners/Regional Offices; but all input from any interested stakeholder is welcome.

Would you like to know more? Attend upcoming webinars! Webinar registration:

  • 9:00-10:00 CET, 24 January 2023, in English with simultaneous translation into Spanish and French. Register here
  • 17:00-18:00 CET,  21 February 2023, in English with simultaneous translation into Spanish and French. Register here

Learn more about this revision process on the FSC website, under Current Processes (here).  Anyone interested to stay informed is invited to sign up to the Consultative Forum mailing list (here) for updates on the revision of FSC-PRO-30-006. 

FSC is looking forward to your input!


Featured image: FSC-certified urban forest in Aachen, Germany (photo: Gesche Schifferdecker)

Predicting the future of our tree species

By Albert Ciceu, Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW)

Did you know that due to the rapid development of climate change some species are unable to adapt fast enough to the new climatic conditions and might reduce their distribution or even face possible extinction?

In such cases, species distribution models (SDM) come handy since they can be used to identify areas with a potential biodiversity loss and assist species migration to more suitable areas. SDM uses advanced computer algorithms, georeferenced biodiversity observations and geographic layers of environmental information to build predictive models that can be used to make inferences about the potential distribution range of species in space and time.

In the SUPERB project, we use species distribution modelling to develop a European tree species and seed provenance recommendation system called Seed4Forests. Currently, the SUPERB partners in our demonstration areas count on our species and provenance recommendation list when considering restauration activities such as planting, and we hope that in the future this will be a common practice also for other forest restoration projects.

To obtain such a model, well-developed hard skills are required for data wrangling, data manipulation, algorithm selection and fitting, as well as data visualisation. Especially because these tasks are usually executed via a programming language. In late June this year, our team at Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape (BFW) in Austria decided that it would be beneficial for some of us to improve and polish some of these skills by attending a species distribution modelling course.

In early July last year, one of my colleagues and I booked early bird tickets to the 8th edition of the Species Distributions Modelling course held in Evora, Portugal, by two renowned and well-established scientists in this field: Miguel Araújo and Babak Naimi. The course was scheduled to start on the 7th of November and last 8 days, during which we would go through all steps involved in building and testing models of species distribution.

The summer passed as fast as you can say ‘Schnitzel’ and here we were catching a flight to Lisbon at 3:30 AM Sunday morning. We had the whole Sunday to wander around amazing and hilly Lisbon were we – despite being sleepy – enjoyed a long walk.

As two tree geeks would normally behave we couldn’t resist the temptation to visit the botanical garden and test our tree identification skills. We both performed well with small exceptions when it came to some Mediterranean tree species and non-native tree species of Europe. Early in the morning we took the bus to Evora, a beautiful, lively university city. We would later learn that Evora’s streets are not ordinary. You can easily hear the sound of Fado music drifting while encountering students dressed as if they are coming from a Quidditch game between the Gryffindors and the Slytherins (the main inspiration of Harry Potter’s uniforms came from Portugal).

But back to our arrival: when we arrived in Evora, the first class was ready to start. We joined the small group of around 12 young scientists who were physically present and 2 more attendees online, eager to find out how and when species distribution models can be useful.

 After a quick round of introductions, I was surprised to find out that although we were drawn by the same interest for this course, our backgrounds were very different. Based on their presentation, I could easily divide the group in 3 main clusters: those interested in birds, plants lovers, and marine life enthusiasts.

The course started with a short introduction of the terminology used in species distribution modelling. Prof. Miguel Araujo was mostly responsible for the theoretical aspects of the topic, describing in detail the timeline from the ‘early days’ of SDMs to the cutting-edge research that is now conducted in the world as well as in his labs in Evora and Madrid. He filled our memory citing and describing methodologies applied in different research papers that tackle aspects of species distribution modelling in time and space. Throughout the course he gave us a good understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of ecological niche models while emphasizing the strengths and limitations of those models in the context of different uses.

Prof. Babak Naimi, on the other hand, was responsible for developing our hard skills. He introduced us to the sdm package, a package developed by himself and Miguel with the main purpose of building species distribution models. Throughout the week he described the main functionalities of the package, while during his intense coding sessions we discussed extensively the use of the package in tacking our research questions. It was indeed the perfect mixture of theory and practice.

The 8th and last day of the course was reserved for presenting our work through short presentations. We had been split in small groups of 3 to 5 people and given the task to design and build a species distribution model. Using some data already available at European scale, my group and I developed 3 SDMs for 3 oak species (Quercus frainettoQuercus cerris and Quercus pubescens) which is of big interest for the SUPERB demo areas. We predicted the current and the future distribution of these species under different climate scenarios. In order to improve the ”projection power”  of our model we also predicted the SDM of a new invasive insect species (Corythuca arcuata) as this species has a huge potential to threaten the stability and limit the distribution of the oak species in Europe.

Soon it was time to fly back to the country of Mozart and the city of Johann Strauss. The course was a treat and we are ready and excited to apply our newly acquired skills in the SUPERB project helping you choose the most suitable species for the forests of our future.

Reforestation in our demo area in Vysocina region

In the Vysocina region, mature Norway spruce stands were heavily infested by bark beetles. It resulted in massive salvage logging and an abrupt decrease of the area of older coniferous stands by 20%. In one of the most affected forest districts, Ledeč nad Sázavou (Forest of the Czech Republic; Lesy České republiky s.p.), salvage felling in the period 2018–2022 amounted to 2 219 333 m3. Affected trees were continuously removed, and sites were prepared for restoration. The main restoration measures are natural and artificial regeneration (planting and seeding) of site-specific tree species of local provenances (following national legislation – decree 456/2021) and subsequent weed control. In the Czech demo areas, planting took place in the spring and autumn of 2022. Protection through the fencing of broadleaved and Abies alba was necessary to prevent game browsing. The main tree species used for reforestation are Quercus petraea, Fagus sylvatica, Acer pseudoplatanus, Picea abies, Alnus glutinosa, Pinus sylvestris and Prunus avium. The design of reforestation is based on site-specific conditions, the mosaic of site types and targeted tree species composition. In the coming years, we plan on improvement of afforestation in case of failures, mechanical weed control, and consequent use of repellents outside the fenced areas. 

Updates from our demo Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

During a trip to Scotland in September, our colleagues from Wageningen Research made a field visit to the restoration sites in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park (QEFP) guided by demo leader Bruce Nicoll. Within the Scottish demo, one of the measures is to transform monocultures of Sitka spruce to continuous cover forestry (CCF), besides diversifying forest’s age structure and species composition. The second restoration activity will be along the river, restoring the riparian woodlands and implementing Natural Flood Management techniques (e.g., leaky dams, timber bunds) aimed at reducing flood peaks. The third restoration activity is high elevation planting. The field visit was a great way of getting to know the Scottish situation. The next day the group was welcomed at the office of Forest Research, where they also met Tom Locatelli. During the day they discussed the SUPERB activities ahead and among them was the workplan which is now finalized.  

Sitka spruce

At the beginning of November, the Scottish demo held its stakeholder workshop. Planned restoration activities were discussed in the field during an extended visit to representative sites within QEFP. The workshop was a very enjoyable experience for the Forest Research (FR) and Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) SUPERB teams, as well as for the participants, who asked very many questions and engaged in discussions about SUPERB, QEFP, and upscaling forest restoration in Scotland and the UK. Given the dense content and structure of the workshop, and the multiple requirements from various WPs, the changes to allow extended forest visits introduced some logistic challenges that required careful planning and timing of the numerous workshop activities. Thanks to the positive and engaging spirit of QEFP’s stakeholders, all the project requirements for the workshop were achieved very satisfactorily. The FR and FLS team are looking forward to welcoming their participants back to QEFP for a full-day visit to forest restoration sites in QEFP during the summer of 2023, and to expanding their stakeholder network and activities during 2023. 

What Twitter images tell us about COP27 issues: A focus on the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership and Biodiversity Day

By Rina Tsubaki, European Forest Institute

In our previous social media exploration, we looked at how Twitter hashtags can help us inquire into emerging public issues around global events like COP27. In our rapid investigation, based on the digital methods recipes developed by SUPERB partners at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London and the Public Data Lab, we identified different ways people engage with forest restoration through keywords like #conservation, #afforestation, and #rewild. Hashtags such as #forestsarenotfuel and #lettreesgrow problematised the economic use of forests. Political matters also came up, linking the Amazon rainforest and changing politics in Brazil.

COP27 was undeniably an important meeting to follow up on last year’s Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forests and Land Use, where over 140 world leaders pledged to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. This year’s COP also saw dozens of governments collectively announcing the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), and the day dedicated to biodiversity acted as a platform to discuss the progress of the Glasgow commitment.

Read More

Comments on Draft Nature Restoration Law

An awareness of the need to urgently restore healthy, resilient ecosystems underpins a partnership of major EU funded projects: SUPERB, WaterLANDS, REST-COAST, and MERLIN. Addressing the restoration of forests, wetlands, coastlines and freshwaters respectively, the projects have been funded to support the European Green Deal’s aspirations to foster climate resilience and nature recovery across the continent, alongside the aim of becoming net carbon-neutral by 2050. By promoting the widespread and innovative scaling-up of ecosystem restoration across Europe, the partnership offers a significant opportunity to amplify scientists’ voices in the development of the European Nature Restoration Law. In November 2022, all four sister projects jointly analysed the draft text of the proposed law, and summarized their recommendations in a policy brief.

This important contribution was developed during a science-policy workshop hold in Brussels on 25th November 2022, organised by the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission and DG R&I, and attended by the project coordinators and by representatives of EEA, JRC, DG-ENV, DG-AGRI, DG-MARE, DG-REGIO and DG-CLIMA.

The policy brief was submitted to the rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs of the EU Parliament’s Environmental committee in advance of debates on the draft legislation in 2023.

COP27 on Twitter: Forest restoration issues and narratives through hashtags

By Rina Tsubaki

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has prompted confusion among its users and concerns about the platform’s future. Musk’s tweets are gathering daily attention due to large-scale layoffs and safety concerns around the new paid blue verification mark. To make things worse, as its engineers are on their way out of the door, users are also experiencing various technical glitches on the platform. Millions of users – including journalists, researchers and organisations – are already signing up on alternative platforms to be prepared for the platform’s deterioration and demise.  

While no one can predict Twitter’s future, it remains widely used by politicians, scientists, companies, NGOs and influencers who are still busy posting on the platform. This includes COP27 in Egypt, where Twitter was one of the main platforms to report on the event. #cop27 has been tweeted over 2.85 million times since 5 November 2022.  

Social media platforms can give us additional insights into how broader publics make connections between forest restoration and other social, economic and environmental issues. To see which issues and narratives around forest restoration have been brought up on Twitter in the lead-up to the event, we’ve carried out a series of small explorations based on the digital methods recipes developed by our colleagues at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London and the Public Data Lab, who are part of the SUPERB consortium led by EFI. This has been a good way to see if we could use these methods independently to understand international events as they unfold. 

We usually see a spike in hashtag usage a few days before global events like the COPs. Using #cop27we collected 217,189 tweets between 5 and 7 November 2022. We then examined the top 1000 hashtags to see which kinds of forest-related issues are present.  

To provide a way to explore some of the other themes and concerns, here are the most frequently used 1000 hashtags shown as a tag cloud, with those related to forests highlighted in green:

You can find an interactive visual here.

We also ranked issue-related hashtags in the top 1000 list. 

You can find an interactive visual here.

As can be seen in these visuals, we saw quite some forest and restoration-related hashtags amongst the most common hashtags, the most visible being #greenlegacy (1333 tweets), a hashtag referring to Ethiopia’s forest restoration initiative to plant 20 billion trees by the end of 2022. Notably, one also sees #ethiopia (5023 tweets), #ethiopiaprevails (2580 tweets), and #ethiopiaraising (1404 tweets), along with #plantyourprint (53 tweets), a campaign hashtag associated with #greenlegacy. While further exploration is needed, it indicates that Ethiopia’s green commitments, including its forest restoration actions, have gathered some attention on COP27 Twitter.  

While other policy initiatives were rarely addressed through hashtags, #eugreendeal (43 tweets) was also found in the top hashtag list. 

Tropical forest issues also came up, however, in smaller numbers, including #deforestation (34 tweets), #rainforest (14 tweets), along with the Amazon-related hashtags, calling to ‘save’ the Amazon through tags like #savetheamazon (52 tweets) and #salvemoslaamazonía (29 tweets) in Portuguese.  

The only hashtag immediately related to ‘forest restoration’ as such was #treeplantation (191 tweets). No hashtags referring to the word ‘restoration’ or ‘restore’ could be found in the top list. 

Apart from restoration, other associated issues could be seen in the set. For example, several hashtags referring to soil emerged, including #savesoil (216 tweets), a global movement launched by Sadhguru, to address the soil crisis, along with #drought (142 tweets). #biodiversity (92 tweets) and #landrights (34 tweets).  

Some forest-focused organisations’ hashtags also came up, including #onecgiar (23 tweets), a hashtag referring to CGIAR’s transition to strengthen its partnerships, #glfclimate (20 tweets) by the Global Landscape Forum, and #trees4resilience (17 tweets), a hashtag used for the CIFOR and ICRAF’s COP27 session on “Trees and forests: An investment in climate resilience”. 

While exploring the top hashtags tells us which forest and restoration-related issues surfaced in hashtags in COP27 Twitter, it does not tell us the relations between different hashtags associated with COP27 and forests (for those interested, check out Marres (2015), which discusses frequency-based and co-occurrence measures). By querying #cop27 AND forest (without brackets to collect tweets that mention, for example, ‘deforestation’), we’ve collected 3000 tweets from 30 days ahead of the COP27 and visualised the hashtag relations based on this recipe

An interactive visualisation here.

A network visualisation of hashtags found in tweets mentioning both #cop27 and the word ‘forest’ give other insights into associations between different issues.  

For example, we’ve detected a cluster of various risks facing global forests, including #desertification#wildfire#forestfire#degradation#drought and #deforestation (see the following screenshot).

The role of forests in removing and capturing carbon (e.g. #carboncapture, #carbonremoval, #carbonsink) can be observed close to #rainforest and #amazonrainforest

Global trade issues were raised through hashtags like #supplychains, #commodities, and #deforestationfree. 

Brazilian political issues emerged through hashtags like #lulapresidente2022 and #bolsonaropresidente2022, appearing closely with #amazon and #amazonia, making links between the Amazon rainforests and Lula’s comeback after almost four years of Bolsonaro presidency. One may imagine that this event may have contributed to the prominence of Amazon-related hashtags.  

While #treeplantation was the only hashtag with an obvious link to both ‘forest’ and ‘restoration’, we identified other associated terms, such as: #rewild

#afforestation, 

#fragmentation, #permaculture, #forestmanagement, 

#conservation, #preservation#agroforestry, and #restoration, which appeared closely with two campaign hashtags, namely #trees4resilience and #letstalktrees by CIFOR and ICRAF and #thinklandscape by the Global Landscape Forum. However, these hashtags were found far from the centre, indicating that they were not used frequently with other hashtags.

The word “restore” also came up in hashtags #restoremothernature, and #generationrestoration, a UN campaign hashtag for ecosystem restoration. 

Another forest-related campaign hashtag is #teamingup4forests, an initiative between IUFRO and Mondi Group. It appears closely with #sdg17 or “Partnerships for the Goals”. #forestsector can also be observed here along with #lettreesgrow.

Finally, there is a large cluster of biomass-related hashtags around the International Day of Action on Big Biomass (#internationaldayofactiononbigbiomass). Quite a few hashtags in this cluster criticised the use of forests as fuel, including #forestsarenotfuel and #stopburningtrees. These hashtags imply that the voices opposing the economic use of forests emerged in the Twitter conversation around COP27.

As part of this small Twitter exploration, we’ve also collected a handful of tweets that mentioned the word ‘forest’ and #cop27 from the period of 5-7 November 2022 to get some examples of narratives that circulated on Twitter. 

For example, the top tweets from this period included those posted by the ministers from Mexico and Colombia addressing reforestation and deforestation issues as their governments’ priorities. 

The UN-REDD Programme also called for the need for corporate investment to protect tropical forests and to reach below 1.5 degrees.

While Climate Council, an Australian non-profit, pointed out that restoration activities are not enough to reduce CO2, 

Dr Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist, argued that preventing deforestation could help establish “efficiency” in reducing CO2 emissions.

The last example is Alexander Verbeek, an independent advisor on climate issues with more than 304K Twitter followers. He referred to Lula’s re-election as a “sign of relief” for Amazonia.

We’re sharing this work in progress to give an indication of how hashtag analysis can be used not only for academic research but also to help organisations, journalists, campaign groups, and others to trace social media practices and issue composition around events as they unfold. 

Building on collaborations with our colleagues at King’s College London and the Public Data Lab, over the coming years, we will be continuing to explore the use of arts and humanities-based digital methods to explore forest issues as part of the SUPERB project. This includes exploring forest restoration issues, situating forest restoration practices and mapping broader societal engagements with restoration efforts across the project’s demo sites and beyond. We’ll continue sharing work in progress and hope that some of the techniques and approaches we’re developing can be used by others working on environmental issues. 

Interested in this type of exploration? Read another post on our previous analysis of the Amazon rainforest fires.

SUPERB & IUFRO Forest Restoration Talks: Upcoming webinars

Join our future webinars!

Our Forest Restoration Talks take place every second Wednesday of the month at 16:00 CET. You can register to attend all forthcoming events or only selected ones.

The Forest Restoration Talks organized jointly by SUPERB and IUFRO‘s Task Force ‘Transforming Forest Landscapes for Future Climates and Human Well-Being’ investigate forest restoration questions from diverse scientific perspectives, with alternating focus on the global and European levels. The series brings together researchers, practitioners, NGOs, policy makers and other interested stakeholders to explore practical forest restoration approaches, experiences and challenges worldwide.

You can find the complete schedule of the upcoming events below. To watch our previous webinars, click here.

Upcoming events

DateSpeaker(s)Webinar titleHost
8th of February 2023Gert-Jan Nabuurs, Wageningen University, Iciar Alberdi, Spanish National Research Council, Jürgen Bauhus, University of Freiburg, Harald Mauser, European Forest Institute & Sara Filipek, Wageningen University”European forest restoration: urgently needed, but where and how?”SUPERB
8th of March 2023Stephanie Mansourian, Environmental Consultant at Mansourian.org, & Mercy Derkyi, Senior Lecturer, University of Energy and Natural Resources“Governments commit to forest restoration, but what does it take to restore forests?”IUFRO
12th of April 2023Giorgio Vacchiano, Associate Professor, University of Milan, Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences”Billions of trees? The how, where and don’ts of tree planting”SUPERB
10th of May 2023René Zamora Cristales, Senior Manager Restoration Policy & Forest Economist, World Resources Institute“Restoration Policy Accelerator: a journey to inspire, innovate and streamline policies to restore 50 million hectares in Latin America and the Caribbean and 100 million hectares in Africa”IUFRO
14th of June 2023Jonathan Gray, Senior Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies, King’s College London, & Rina Tsubaki, Communications Manager, European Forest Institute“How forest restoration is discussed in online spaces – results of the SUPERB Social Media analysis”SUPERB

SUPERB & IUFRO 2st Forest Restoration Talk: “Biodiversity as a key asset for forest restoration in Europe” with Bart Muys

After our inaugural SUPERB & IUFRO Monthly Forest Restoration Talk, we invite you to remain part of our #UpscalingForestRestoration community and join the second event of the series on the 14th of December at 4pm CET.

Focused on “Biodiversity as a key asset for forest restoration in Europe”, the webinar will feature KU Leuven’s Bart Muys, main author of the study “Forest Biodiversity in Europe“, which will be presented to participants. The study focuses on how we can effectively maintain and enhance forest biodiversity in Europe. It looks at what is at stake, the current external and internal threats to forest biodiversity and makes recommendations for how we should respond – both in terms of forest management, and also in terms of the policy and finance landscape.

You can join all future webinars of the series on Zoom by registering with this link.