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.
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.
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.
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.
#RestorationStory 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 #cop27, we 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:
We also ranked issue-related hashtags in the top 1000 list.
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.
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,
#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.
Are you interested in this type of exploration? Read another post on our previous analysis of the Amazon rainforest fires.
Rina Tsubaki is a communications manager with European Forest Institute.
You are invited to join our new “Monthly Forest Restoration Talks”, hosted by SUPERB in partnership with IUFRO‘s Task Force ‘Transforming Forest Landscapes for Future Climates and Human Well-Being’.
Targeting researchers, practitioners, NGOs, policy makers and other interested stakeholders, the webinar series will investigate forest restoration questions from diverse scientific perspectives, with alternating focus on the global and European levels. This includes exploring practical forest restoration approaches, experiences and challenges worldwide.
Taking place on Wednesday, 9 November from 16:00-17:30 CET, the first webinar features forest restoration specialist John Stanturf as a speaker, discussing the topic “If nature is the solution, what is the problem? A perspective from forest landscape restoration”.
Following webinars will take place every second Wednesday of the month at the same time. Save the date for the second webinar on 14 December, when KU Leuven professor Bart Muys will discuss “Biodiversity as a key asset for forest restoration in Europe“!
You can join all future webinars on Zoom by registering with this link and using the passcode 540128.
This 3rd of October is World Habitat Day! To celebrate the occasion, SUPERB coordinator Elisabeth Pötzelsberger, Head of Resilience Programme at the European Forest Institute (EFI), explained the importance of “prestoration” – the combination of restoration and climate adaptation – for resilient and functional forest habitats. She discussed how it differs from classical restoration approaches, highlighted its relevance to the new EU Nature Restoration Law and listed concrete examples of how prestoration is being applied within the SUPERB demonstration areas in Germany and in the Czech Republic.
Watch the video interview on YouTube or read it below!
What is prestoration? How does it differ from more classical approaches to forest restoration?
Why do we actually restore restore forests? There are large restoration needs, for example, when forests are impacted by hot temperatures, forest fires, and also by prolonged droughts that will also cause outbreaks of pests and pathogens, which can kill forests on large landscape levels. But also to make our forests more diverse again in Europe and to bring back important habitats that, for example, are associated with deadwood and old-growth elements, which have become rare across Europe.
When people talk about restoration, they might think of different objectives that may be located along the so-called restoration continuum. The classical restoration continuum ranges from fighting the drivers of degradation over remediation of ecosystem functions up to full ecological restoration, where species diversity, ecosystem structure and function are restored. However, climate change adds a new dimension to this restoration continuum. Therefore, the consideration of adaptation in restoration, what we can call prestoration, is becoming so important.
Forest researchers and practitioners are therefore supporting this concept, which means the combination of restoration ambitions with the need for adaptation. Adaptation of tree species composition and forest structure in order to increase the resilience of forests under climate change and also ensure forest functioning in the future.
Can you give a few examples that illustrate how prestoration works?
There are already good examples where we are practising prestoration, like in our two SUPERB demonstration areas in central Europe – in Germany (North Rhine-Westfalia) and in the Czech Republic. These regions are naturally dominated by beech forests but some decades or centuries ago have been converted into Norway Spruce plantations.
Now with prolonged droughts, these Norway Spruce forests have been severely damaged by subsequent bark beetle infestations. In SUPERB, we are not only restoring them back into native beech forest ecosystems but already looking into more drought-tolerant habitat types like oak/hornbeam forests and mixing them with even more broadleaved tree species to increase forest resilience and functionality also for future climate conditions.
What challenges does prestoration entail?
Prestoration is neither simple nor straightforward. With climate change, we are really entering uncharted territory. We will be and already are experiencing conditions that we have never experienced before. Also our native forest species are not adjusted to these new conditions. Looking for more adapted species in the Mediterranean may be an option. However, there is also large uncertainty associated with it because we don’t know, for example, whether these species will be truly suited to the climatic conditions that will occur in 100 years’ time, because there is still a broad range of possible climate change scenarios.
And then there is another challenge: forests do not consist only of trees. There are many other plant and animal species that live in these forests and are also dependent on these tree species. So, will they be fit to survive in these climatic conditions and will they be happy to thrive in these forests which may consist of different tree species than today?
What are the prerequisites for successful prestoration?
Due to this large uncertainty, in SUPERB we are convinced that we need flexible approaches and to revisit decisions as we go along. And of course, with SUPERB we are also providing continuous scientific support which will allow us to find out which are the right species compositions and how we can assist the migration of other plant and animal species across the landscape so they can find in the future forest habitats and climate conditions that they are adjusted to.
How is prestoration relevant to the new EU Restoration Law?
So this prestoration concept, this idea of integrating adaptation into restoration, will be of crucial importance if we want to achieve the overall goal of the new EU’s Biodiversity Strategy and the EU’s Forest Strategy, which is to restore European biodiversity and continuous provision of ecosystem services in the future.
These Biodiversity and Forest Strategies of the EU now will be supported by the Nature Restoration legislation which is currently being debated at the EU level. It remains to be seen how much space will be given actually to adaptation in this new restoration proposal.
But already experiencing this high-speed climate change, I think it is pretty clear: we have to look ahead and not backwards if we want to be prepared for what is coming.
by Sofie Møller Rasmussen
The first workshop for SUPERB in Denmark at our demo site in Northern Jutland. Eleven stakeholders took part in the workshop, which spanned over a whole Saturday in the beginning of September. The participants included forest rangers, local communities, visitors, nature watchers, riders and employees from the local national park. The biggest concern for most of the participants was the preceding monitoring work for the project. They were worried that the endangered and vulnerable species in the area would not be taken in to consideration before the restoration actions. The other big topic discussed was the recreational use of the area and how to guarantee access to it. Stakeholders’ concerns were specifically related to the restoration of natural hydrology, which could lead to flooding of trails used for riding and hiking. We realized that most stakeholders are interested in the use and facilities of the area, and less in biodiversity conservation and forest management. Finally, we aimed at establishing a good relationship with the participants (and with this the local community) so nobody felt left out or not heard. This together with trying to implement the wishes from the stakeholders will be challenging for the project, but it is also very inspiring.
As part of the workshop, I was contacted by a journalist from DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation). DR is the oldest and largest media enterprise in Denmark. I was interviewed for a radio interview and based on this, an article was prepared and published on their national news site (dr.dk). The interview (in Danish) mainly focused on nature and biodiversity in the restoration area.
1st Stakeholder Workshop in German SUPERB demo
by Catharina Schmidt
Did you know that many forests in Germany’s demo area North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have been severely affected by drought and bark beetle outbreaks since 2018? By now, approximately 140.000 ha of Norway spruce forests have been damaged due to spruce bark beetle attacks, and 10.000 ha of pure beech stands are severely affected by drought. To ensure that our forests provide the ecosystem services we need, those areas need to be restored. Therefore, the state of NRW already developed a silviculture and reforestation concept in cooperation with several stakeholders. The concepts are now being tested – amongst others – in SUPERB’s demo sites. These include a total of at least 35 ha in 7 demo sites with at least 5 ha of restoration area per site which will be established across NRW. One “best-practice forest stand” will have the average size of 1 ha.Read More
Stakeholder Engagement Workshop in SUPERB’s Czech demo
Since 2018, massive bark beetle attacks caused widespread damage to the Norway spruce forests in SUPERB’s Czech demo, leading to heavily degraded areas and clearings. The infestations also had devastating social impacts as they negatively affected the forestry sector and deprived local communities of important spaces for recreation. To gather broad support for the forest regeneration efforts in the area, our Czech partners brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from forest enterprises, value chain, policy, NGOs, environmentalists, forest owners, hunters, and the public in a 1-day workshop. Aim of the workshop was to discuss different restoration approaches and how to tailor them to public and private interests. Another important topic was the need to increase the resilience of the future forest to pest outbreaks with the objective to enhance ecosystem services, such as wood production, carbon storage, biodiversity conservation, soil protection, recreation, water provision, and educational activities. A crucial part of the workshop was an excursion to the demo area which allowed for mutual learning and deepening the discourse.
Promoting peaceful coexistence between bears and humans, reconciling indigenous and industrial forest uses, and creating climate-change adapted forests in a former war zone: these are some of the challenges faced by our SUPERB demo areas in Spain, Sweden and Croatia.
At the SUPERB Governance Innovation Lab, the managers of the SUPERB demos in these three locations introduced their approaches to forest restoration and worked on solutions to their governance challenges together with a panel of experts.
Do you want to find out more about their work and meet the faces behind our restoration case studies? Then watch the video interviews below, recorded at the Lab: