Recreation and biodiversity protection – Stakeholder Workshop in Jutland, Denmark

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.

Creating resilient forests for the future

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

Precision restoration: fostering forest recovery in the 21st century

“Forest restoration is currently a primary objective in environmental management policies at a global scale, to the extent that impressive initiatives and commitments have been launched to plant billions of trees. However, resources are limited and the success of any restoration effort should be maximized. Thus, restoration programs should seek to guarantee that what is planted today will become an adult tree in the future, a simple fact that, however, usually receives little attention,” state Jorge Castro, Fernando Morales-Rueda, Francisco B. Navarro, Magnus Löf, Giorgio Vacchiano, and Domingo Alcaraz-Segura in their paper Precision restoration: a necessary approach to foster forest recovery in the 21st century, published in the journal Restoration Ecology in May 2021. They are advocating for the need to focus restoration efforts on an individual plant level to increase establishment success while reducing negative side effects by using an approach that they term “precision forest restoration” (PFR). What PFR means and what the implications for restoration approaches are you can read in the article.

Giorgio Vacchiano, one of the authors, is leading SUPERB’s Demo area – Po Valley – SUPERB (forest-restoration.eu).

Castro, J., Morales‐Rueda, F., Navarro, F. B., Löf, M., Vacchiano, G., & Alcaraz‐Segura, D. (2021). Precision restoration: A necessary approach to foster forest recovery in the 21st century. Restoration Ecology29(7), e13421. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.13421


Featured image: Bark beetle damage in Germany (photo: Gesche Schifferdecker)

A new online tool to make restoration decisions easier

Ecosystem restoration is a complex process, from identifying in-need landscapes to determining best practices for planting trees and promoting natural regeneration. To help restoration actors, funders and other partners plan, carry out and monitor successful projects, FAO and World Resources Institute (WRI) have created AURORA, a web application named for Assessment, Understanding and Reporting of Restoration Activities. The application is now live and ready to support users as they make decisions and select desired impacts and indicators, set goals and monitor the progress of their restoration projects.

Read More

New publication: Policy responses to the Ukraine crisis threaten European biodiversity

SUPERB researchers Niels Strange from University of Copenhagen and Joseph William Bull from Kent University have recently contributed to the “Correspondence” section in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, elaborating on the policy movement away from Russia as a response to the Ukraine crisis and how the recent EU changes to land use policy could jeopardize hard-won gains in efforts to combat biodiversity decline in Europe. The authors emphasize the expected market pull that will increase pressure on forest and open land, and urge the EU Commission and member states to retain an ambitious and long-term perspective on restoring biodiversity. This requires that biodiversity and land-use policies are robust in times of crisis and shifting political priorities — because the current crisis is not the first, and will not be the last. Read more about the recommendations (paid subscription) here.

Wrap-up: What science can tell us about forest biodiversity in Europe & Launching of SUPERB

The ThinkForest science-policy event organised within the #EUGreenWeek on 30 May in Sibiu, Romania, focused on forest biodiversity and forest restoration while marking the official launch of SUPERB.

SUPERB, Europe’s largest transational forest restoration project, was presented by Elisabeth Pötzelsberger, project coordinator at European Forest Institute (EFI). The project involves more than 100 forest science and practice organizations in 20 different countries and includes 12 large-scale forest restoration demonstration sites across Europe.

After an inspiring keynote by His Royal Highness Prince Charles (read the press release here) and an engaging introduction to SUPERB, Bart Muys from KU Leuven presented EFI’s study on Forest Biodiversity in Europe. The study assesses main threats and trends while discussing management options and policy instruments to govern biodiversity conservation in Europe. Barts insightful speech was followed by a high-level panel discussion covering a broad range of topics from the needed involvement of local communities in biodiversity conservation approaches to the EU Forest Strategy, and from legacies of forest management to the potential of payments for forest ecosystem services.

View the programmespeakers and partners.

SUPERB is funded by Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement no. 101036849.

An #EUGREENWEEK event

From the birds’ eye perspective to actions on the ground

SUPERB to promote forest restoration and adaptation across Europe

By Gesche Schifferdecker

Imagine you were a bird flying over Europe. You would see cities and villages, rivers, agricultural landscape, and forests covering almost one-third of Europe. You would distinguish many different types of trees: dark green or more reddish, straight and tall, wide and crooked or small and slender, with many different shapes of leaves or needles. While flying over Europe, you would also encounter damaged forest areas, burned down by the fire, or destroyed by bark beetles; and tree leaves affected by air pollution and herbivorous pests, or turning yellow and brown from a drought.

These disturbances overall are becoming more frequent and severe, be it due to various short-sighted human interventions or ongoing climate change. Luckily, it is not all bad news. From the air, you would also see people working in these damaged forests, planting or seeding new trees, or protecting the naturally regenerating forest against grazing. You would discover people preserving surviving old trees or even the deadwood, because these people have understood how valuable they are for a functioning ecosystem. If done right and with some luck, a diverse and healthy forest will again develop, which will be roamed once more by the many forest creatures.

While there is widespread awareness of the urgency to conserve and restore biodiversity and halt climate change, in fact many more actions are needed on the ground to ensure the long-term thriving of forests in Europe. A series of political commitments at the European level are already in place, including the 2019 European Green Deal, the 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy and the EU Forest Strategy 2030. Yet, in many places, transformative change is still needed on the ground.

From challenges to opportunities

Carpathia demo area in Rumania (photo: Martin Mikoláš)
Carpathian demo area in Romania (photo: Martin Mikoláš)

This is why we are launching “Systemic solutions for upscaling of urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services” (SUPERB). This four-year project is conducted by a consortium of 36 science and practice partners from all over Europe and led by the European Forest Institute. SUPERB is further supported by at least 90 regional to international associate project partners, all having strong ties to the management and protection of European forest landscapes (e.g. agricultural and nature protection ministries and government agencies from over 20 European countries, landowner associations, certifiers, funders, NGOs etc.). SUPERB aims to restore forest landscapes by creating an enabling environment for implementation of forest restoration and adaptation at different scales.

SUPERB will build on the vast but scattered practical knowledge and lessons learned of successful and non-successful forest restoration and adaptation activities and synthesise it for action. We will connect with restoration experts, including from LIFE projects and practitioners with decades of experiences with alternative management approaches. This practical knowledge will be underpinned by a compilation of highly relevant scientific knowledge including economic, governance, forest management, and climate change adaptation aspects of restoration. At the core of SUPERB, concrete restoration actions will be carried out in 12 large-scale demonstration areas, located in 13 different countries. These demo areas not only represent the diversity of stressors on European forests and the wide range of necessary restoration actions, but also consider entire socio-ecological systems including people’s manyfold needs for ecosystem goods and services.

Po Valley demo area in Italy (photo Georgio Vacchiano)
Po Valley demo area in Italy (photo: Georgio Vacchiano)

By taking a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach, we will translate all practical and scientific knowledge on successful restoration into restoration-support guidelines, recommendations, and tools that will be easily accessible on the stakeholder-targeted online Forest Ecosystem Restoration Gateway.

Further information:

The consortium of SUPERB consists of the following organizations:
Wageningen Research, Prospex Institute, Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, Austrian Research Centre for Forests, Bangor University, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape, University of Copenhagen, National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, Spanish National Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and Technology, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Land Life Company, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Forest Sciences Center of Catalonia, University of Kent, Croatian Forest Research Institute, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, University of Florence, King’s College London, University of Milan, Bosgroep zuid, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Forest Research, University of Novi Sad, Institute of Lowland Forestry and Environment, Cesefor, University of Belgrade, University of Lancaster, Institut Européen de la Forêt Cultivée, Fundatia Conservation Carpathia, University of Molise, County Administrative Board of Västerbotten (V-J) for Vindelälven-Juhttátahkka UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Landesbetrieb Wald und Holz NRW, Alliance Forêts Bois, Parco Nord Milano, Junta de Castilla y León, Danish Nature Agency

SUPERB is funded by Horizon 2020 through Grant Agreement 101036849, and receives 20 Million Euro for the implementation period between 2021-2025.


Featured image: Gornje Podunavlje demo area in Serbia (photo: Zoran Galic)