Sustainable finance, forests and biodiversity – Upcoming ThinkForest webinar

We are living in an era where biodiversity is under significant threat, both in Europe and globally. Urgent actions are required to stop further loss and foster restoration, especially within our forest ecosystems. This is not only an environmental responsibility, but is increasingly seen as an essential part of our future economic stability and growth. Public funding has always been playing a crucial role, but the importance of privately financed activities is also growing rapidly.

The European Union addresses the above-mentioned challenges in its Green Deal which aims to reverse biodiversity loss coupled with bioeconomy development, and by having economic growth decoupled from resource use. Accordingly, sustainable finance should aim to channel more investments towards this transition. The EU Taxonomy for sustainable activities is set to redefine investment landscapes, creating a uniform classification system for environmentally sustainable economic activities. Yet, specific criteria for forest-related biodiversity are still under development.

We invite you to join the upcoming ThinkForest webinar “Sustainable Finance, Forests and Biodiversity”, where we will dig into these crucial issues. We will discuss:

  • How can we define criteria and indicators for biodiversity maintenance as well as improvement for forest ecosystems?
  • How can we make sure and monitor that these biodiversity-related criteria and indicators are met (e.g. in forest restoration)?
  • How can private finance support biodiversity protection and enhancement and make it their business case?

Speakers and panellists include:

This webinar is scheduled at April 29, 2024, from 14:00 to 15:30 CET, online via Zoom.

Trade-offs and synergies between European and national forest restoration policies and laws 

#RestorationStory by Simon Fleckenstein and Antonio Basilicata on a stimulating exchange at the science-policy-practice interface 

Climate resilience and biodiversity are mutually reinforcing preconditions for forests to deliver what we as societies need: e.g. wood and other forest products, and opportunities for recreation. But how can we reach this, considering incoherencies and unexplored synergies between European and national forest policies and laws, mirroring different societal interests, values, and knowledge? As such, they act as important drivers of forest management practices that directly shape the resilience of forests and the provision of forest ecosystem services. In light of an increasing need for restoring degraded forest ecosystems in the European Union, we need to bridge critical gaps between different stocks of knowledge, values and interests. For this, we require a better understanding of how this can be done and of what forest restoration actually means to different stakeholder groups. To tackle this question and further aspects, the EU Horizon 2020 SUPERB project organized an enlightening and interactive expert workshop in the heart of political Brussels on 15th February 2024.     

The event was jointly organized by project partners Prospex Institute and the University of Freiburg. It facilitated fruitful discussions on key policy, legal and technical challenges and solutions for European forest restoration within the European multi-level governance system. This included expert exchanges on i) the practical implications of EU and national forest restoration policies, ii) the reconciliation of emerging restoration policies such as the proposed Nature Restoration Law (NRL) with existing European and national forest policies and laws, and iii) opportunities to foster cross-sectoral and multi-level synergies and reduce potential trade-offs. With around 35 representatives from different Directorate-Generals (DGs) of the European Commission, Member State authorities, stakeholder groups, and scientists gathering in a beautiful venue, everything was set for a productive and enriching exchange. 

Two bird´s-eye- views from science and practice 

After a welcoming address and introduction to the SUPERB project by our coordinator Prof. Magda Bou Dagher Kharrat, the workshop started with an insightful presentation from SUPERB partner Prof. Bart Muys from KU Leuven. He provided different and partly competing definitions and understandings of forest “restoration” and emphasized the role of (forest) biodiversity as the foundation for ecosystem functions. Bart argued for a stronger emphasis on biodiversity as a key asset and highlighted the importance of integrating climate considerations into emerging forest-related legislation. Finally, he concluded that forest restoration is a policy and management choice, thus building a bridge to the next keynote speeches.  

Following this, Dr. Peter Löffler (DG CLIMA) provided insights into daily political affairs. He underscored the high-risk exposure of forests to climate change and called for increased investment in risk management strategies, including through forest restoration. In this context, he pointed to various existing and emerging EU policies that necessitate streamlining with national and regional/local policies. The aim is to provide added value to local restoration practitioners by incorporating their practices and experiences into policymaking. Peter emphasized that this approach is crucial for promoting climate-adapted restoration of forests in the European Union. 

Insights from SUPERB on policy and legal aspects of forest restoration in Europe  

Our team from the University of Freiburg provided important insights from our ongoing work in SUPERB. First, Dr. Metodi Sotirov set the scene in his keynote presentation by offering definitions of vertical and horizontal policy coherence from the political science perspective. He then presented an overview of SUPERB results about different, partly conflicting EU and national sectoral and vertical policy priorities ranging from (i.) forest biodiversity conservation and restoration to (ii.) carbon forest management/forest sinks to (iii.) multi-purpose forestry to (iv.) timber yield forestry and to (v.) bioenergy and carbon forestry. Metodi concluded by presenting some illustrative examples for cross-sectoral and vertical policy trade-offs and synergies between new and existing EU forest-related policies and laws. 

Next, we (Simon Fleckenstein and Antonio Basilicata) presented more detailed insights into SUPERB results on EU and national policies and laws governing forest restoration. Based on our findings from an expert interview and analyses of policy documents, we provided an overview of soft and hard law instruments from forest, biodiversity, climate, and agricultural policy areas that directly or indirectly govern forest restoration indicators and practices (e.g., protected forest areas, close-to-nature forests, riparian forest zones, invasive species, and wildlife management). We concluded our presentation with an overview of institutional, administrative, and organizational supporting and hindering drivers of forest restoration.   

To bridge the gap between policy and practice, our SUPERB partner Sara Filipek from Wageningen University & Research introduced the diversity of the twelve demo regions covered by SUPERB and highlighted the multiplicity of restoration challenges prevalent in different regions. She further drew attention to the issues coming along with poorly coordinated restoration policies for local municipalities and restoration practitioners and outlined opportunities to mitigate them in the future.     

Fostering discussions across political levels and Member States 

The diverse program of the event was further complemented by a high-level expert panel skillfully moderated by SUPERB partner Jo O´Hara (former UK Forestry Commissioner) who is responsible for coordinating the work package on “Upscaling”. The panel brought together representatives from the Pan-European ministerial forest policy process, the EU Commission, national forest authorities, and European state forest managers. Facilitating fruitful discussions, the addressed questions ranged from high-level forest restoration policies and their priorities over the potential of transnational cooperation to concrete implementation challenges faced by forest owners and industry on the ground.  

For instance, while it was emphasized that the implementation of forest restoration, as suggested under the proposed Nature Restoration Law, will primarily lie in hands of national administrations, there were calls for a stronger balance between restoration priorities and a better communication between policymakers, forest owners and practitioners. National insights on forest restoration implementation were, inter alia, provided from Spain and Italy, where highly decentralized political systems and exacerbating impacts of climate change call for a certain degree of flexibility in the implementation of forest restoration. Lastly, panelists were asked to write down one key word/statement they deem most relevant to foster forest restoration in the European Union. They included building trust, sharing knowledge and experiences. In addition, they suggested improving communication and interaction across political levels and sectors.  

Harnessing national expertise and experience 

But what would an expert workshop be without providing space to share the valuable experiences, knowledge and opinions of policy and practice experts working in the field? The core part of the event consisted of two interactive breakout sessions. In five small and diverse sub-groups, participants were encouraged to 1) discuss opportunities to streamline potentially diverging interests on forest restoration across policy sectors (such as in the context of promoting uneven-aged and mixed species stands) and foster collaboration towards a common forest restoration goal, as well as 2) jointly identify the potentially optimal multilevel governance model and necessary policy toolbox to promote forest restoration in the European Union. The results illustrated the richness of ideas and common ground in navigating the multifaceted system of European forest restoration politics among the workshop participants. 

Conclusions and way forward  

The one-day Expert Discussion on Forest Restoration Policy and Practice turned out to be a big success, not least due to the active engagement of the diverse range of stakeholders who joined the event. This demonstrated that, during the policy-making process and in related research activities, close cooperation with national experts and restoration practitioners is crucial to ensuring practicability and added value.  

Moreover, while there may be some disagreement on how to achieve forest restoration in the European Union, the shared goal of securing climate-adapted and biodiverse forests transcends policy sectors and political levels. It remains essential that relevant stakeholders talk with each other and exchange knowledge as well as context-specific experiences/best practices on forest restoration in a mutually beneficial way. The good news is that with the vast practical and scientific experience and knowledge in this field, also very much gathered in SUPERB, we have the necessary tools at hand to foster and scale up forest restoration in Europe. 

Upcoming webinar – Tree planting and water cycling: always a win-win situation?

In the next SUPERB/IUFRO Forest Restoration Talk, we’ll take a trip to the Loess Plateau in China to investigate the nexus between forest restoration and water.

As climate change impacts creep in, considering the options and limitations of forest restoration from the perspective of water cycling has become critical, especially in dry regions of the world. We need to transform traditional approaches to restoration by taking into account water resource limitations, the impacts of forestry practices on water resources, and the optimisation of multiple forest functions and services.

Using afforestation in the Loess Plateau as a regional example, we’ll discuss the topic with two speakers from IUFRO’s Transforming Forest Landscapes Task Force:

• Yanhui Wang, Ecology and Nature Conservation Institute, Chinese Academy of Forestry

• Zhang Mingfang, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China

The webinar “Tree planting and water cycling: always a win-win situation?” takes place on the 10th of April, at 16:00 CET.

FORWARDS project annual meeting: exploring and co-designing the forestward observatory

Advancing forest conservation and restoration initiatives through collaborative engagement

Berlin, 12-14 March 2024 – The FORWARDS project held its Annual Meeting from March 12th to 14th, 2024, convening the consortium to address progress, challenges, and future trajectories.

The focus of the meeting was co-designing the ForestWard Observatory, emphasizing collaborative design processes and efforts in disturbance mapping, supersite development, and remote sensing data utilization. Integration of remote sensing data for forest restoration and Climate-Smart Forest management was a key focal point.

A discussion ensued regarding the significance of demo sites, with representatives from Latvia (SILAVA), Italy (UNIMOL), Sweden (SLU), UK (Forest Research), and Switzerland (WSL) sharing insights. These sites employ innovative monitoring techniques for testing Climate Smart Forestry (CSF) & Restoration activities, serving as models for engagement with citizens and stakeholders. Plans involve expanding these demo sites into a Network of Pilot sites using grants-to-third-parties, which formed a significant part of the agenda as participants deliberated on strategies for their success.

Cross-project cooperation discussions included representatives from projects like SUPERB, TRANSFORMIT, ForestNavigator, HoliSoils, ForestPaths, and MoniFun, exploring synergies with FORWARDS, particularly in data integration and platform development.

Distinguished guests, including Jurij Krajcic from the European Commission – DG Clima, and Annemarie Bastrup-Birk from the European Environment Agency (EEA), provided insights into the evolving European Forest Monitoring Law and the Forest Information System for Europe (FISE), emphasizing the need for robust information to support forest-related policies.

Pieter Kempeneers from the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission praised the use of the Big Data Analytics Platform (BDAP) within FORWARDS for its transformative potential in forest mapping systems, facilitating collaboration and generating policy-relevant insights.

The meeting concluded with strategic discussions on the ForestWard Observatory’s development and outlined actionable steps for future progress, highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts in advancing forest conservation and restoration initiatives.

Webinar: “Ecosystem Restoration on a Landscape level – how can it work in practice?” 

Landscape approaches to ecosystem restoration are gaining traction worldwide, helping to rebuild degraded ecosystems for the benefit of people and nature while leveraging local and scientific expertise and enhancing stakeholder cooperation. To deliver large-scale landscape restoration across Europe, the European Commission is funding four flagship projects as part of the EU Green Deal and as a direct input to the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the new Nature Restoration Law.  

The EU Green Deal ecosystem restoration cluster – composed of the SUPERB, MERLIN, WaterLANDS and REST-COAST projects – totals 85 million euros of investment, spread out across forest, freshwater, wetlands and coastal ecosystems. Individually, the four projects are conducting on-the-ground restoration efforts in each of their ecosystems and paving the way for further upscaling and replication activities in the years to come. Together, they are working on joint challenges, creating common tools and resources, such as the upcoming Nature Restoration Gateway, and debating how restoration across different ecosystems can be coordinated at the landscape scale. 

The next step in this collaboration is the webinar “Ecosystem Restoration on a Landscape level – how can it work in practice?”, to be held on 13 March, 16:00 CET, as part of the SUPERB Monthly Forest Restoration Talks. Representatives of the four projects will gather to discuss their experiences with restoration on a practical level, common challenges and ideas on how a more integrated approach to landscape restoration might look like.  

 
Curious to hear more about the cluster? Register here to join the webinar!  

Webinar speakers: 

  • Magda Bou Dagher Kharrat, Principal Scientist, European Forest Institute, SUPERB project coordinator 
  • Sebastian Birk, Senior Scientist and Lecturer, University of Duisburg-Essen, MERLIN project coordinator 
  • Shane Mc Guinness, Assistant Professor, University College Dublin, WATERLANDS project coordinator 
  • Ana Iglesias, Professor, Technical University of Madrid – UPM, REST-COAST project 

Webinar “Unveiling the Future of Christmas Trees in the Era of Climate Change”

Navigating Forest Disturbances, Restoration, and Adaptation

In our upcoming Forest Restoration Webinar with IUFRO‘s Task Force ‘Transforming Forest Landscapes for Future Climates and Human Well-Being’ on 13th December 4pm CET, our speaker Christina Dollinger (Technical University Munich) will introduce us to her research related to the Restoration of mountain forests in the Berchtesgaden National Park. Christina will elaborate on short- and long-term success in the face of climate change and share insights from her research combining field data and simulation modelling.

Register here to attend!

Spotlight on the SUPERB Spanish demo at the IUFRO conference in Évora

The SUPERB Spanish demo took center stage at the IUFRO Forest Environment DIV 8 Conference 2023 in Évora, Portugal, showcasing its tailor-made approach for addressing three challenges at once: land abandonment, heightened forest fire risks and fragmentation of Cantabrian brown bear habitats.

From October 24th to 27th, SUPERB’s Judit Torres (CESEFOR) attended the conference, representing the Spanish demo in the session “Forest Landscape Restoration: resilient socioecological landscapes in the making”. The session explored solutions for designing, implementing, and monitoring forest restoration in collaboration with stakeholders from academia, NGOs, government, and the private sector.

Rural abandonment in the SUPERB Spanish demo, located in the region of Castille and Leon, has led to insufficient forest management and landscape degradation, resulting in scrubbing of the landscape, homogenisation of the territory and increased forest fire risks. This situation also poses a significant threat to the recovery of the Cantabrian brown bear, a highly endangered species in Europe, due to loss of habitat. At the IUFRO conference session, Torres shared insights into the project’s progress and lessons learned while addressing these interconnected issues, focusing on topics such as stakeholder engagement, improvements in interactions between residents and the environment, and possibilities for upscaling forest restoration.

She shared the round table with three other speakers: René Zamora Cristales (World Resources Institute), Alejandro Huertas Herrera and Mónica Toro Manriquez (Centro de Investigación En Ecosistemas De La Patagonia). The session was moderated by John Devaney (Maynooth University), Anna Barbati (University of Tuscia), and João Azevedo (Instituto Politécnico de Bragança).

You can learn more about the SUPERB demo in Spain and their restoration measures here.

SUPERB presented to new forest research network in Germany

SUPERB Demo area – North Rhine Westphalia – SUPERB (forest-restoration.eu) lead Catharina Schmidt introduced the project work on October 30th and 31st in Arnsberg, Germany, to a group of ca. 40 scientists and practitioners from various organisations based in NRW. Aim of the “Forest Research NRW“ event was to discuss the latest scientific results and practical challenges related to how we can better prepare and adapt our forests in times of climate change. The agenda of the symposium included topics such as the opportunities of digitalization in the forest for climate change adaptation, the performance of forest soils, questions of forest governance as well as reflections on how to combine climate protection and timber construction. The event was organized on the initiative of the NRW Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Protection with the objective to establish a new forest research network in NRW, formally announced by NRW Minister for Agriculture and Consumer Protection Silke Gorißen on October 30th.

The workshop also included an excursion to SUPERB’s demo sites in Arnsberg, where participants learned about ongoing forest restoration measures: reforesting beetle-infected spruce forests into more diverse, mixed-forest ecosystems by using a combination of natural regeneration and replanting.

SUPERB Restoration Project Festival – join us online! 

20-22 November 2023 CET | Hybrid event

On 20-22 November 2023 the SUPERB Restoration Project Festival for forest restoration experts working in Europe will take place in Milan, Italy, and online, CET. 

You are welcome to register for specific sessions of interest

SUPERB is a Horizon 2020 research and innovation project launched by the Europe Commission and led by the EFI

The SUPERB Restoration Project Festival will be the opportunity for European forest restoration specialists to come together to:

  • Contribute to forging a common pool of effective forest restoration solutions and making them available across Europe.
  • Hear from innovative approaches and initiatives in this field.
  • Join a growing network for knowledge sharing and cooperation for forest restoration practitioners that is being built by SUPERB.

During the event, you will make your input together with representatives of around 40 other European forest restoration initiatives. Most of the festival’s sessions are hybrid, and the highlights include:

  • Kick-off keynote on success stories of innovative funding and long-term-continuity, with speakers from the FAGUS Life+project and the Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO.
  • A series of sessions for sharing restoration best practices and drawing common insights and ideas on key topics for forest restoration. 
  •  ‘Stories for impact’ – signature workshop by EFI where you will learn hands-on how to use the power of story as a tool for public engagement and collaboration.  

You can explore the different sessions in the agenda attached. Please note that places for some sessions are limited. 

To participate, please register for the sessions of your choice using this form, by Wednesday 15 November. 

For any questions, please contact .

We look forward to hearing from you!

The team of organising SUPRB partner Prospex Institute.

Engaging with SUPERB’s Swedish demo

In the end of September 2023 the Swedish SUPERB demo colleagues Åsa Granberg and Anders Esselin contributed an excursion with the advisory board of the regional forest program. The advisory board consists of representatives of a wide range of forest stakeholders, from NGOs in nature conservation and outdoor life, private forest owners, politicians and researchers to heads of forest management in the large forest companies in the region. It was an inspiring day with a lot of interesting discussions and meetings, starting with a visit to a field trial of chess board cutting, a version of continuous cover forestry. At site, Charlotta Erefur and Ida Rönnqvist, researchers at SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) told the colleagues from the Swedish demo about the trial and encouraged to discussions. With such diverse group of stakeholders the discussions immediately started, covering things like potential benefits of the method, for example for biodiversity and recreational values, but also potential drawbacks, for example lower profitability and issues with regeneration.

The excursion ended with a visit in in the SUPERB restoration site Ume Älvdal, where municipality ecologist Marlene Olsson and SUPERB-member Åsa Granberg told the advisory board about the planned restoration activities in the area and about the SUPERB project. And despite pouring rain, the audience were really interested and gave their different views on the planned restoration actions. All in all – a really nice day!