Breaking out of business as usual in Serbian forestry

On 23 November 2023, the second stakeholder workshop focusing on the SUPERB demo Coppice Forests in Serbia took place at the Monastery Vujan, in Prislonica. Engaging conversations around the ongoing restoration activities in the demo area were held with five participants, mostly coming from private forestry companies. This was also an excellent opportunity for the demo team to collect in-depth feedback from the participants.

The workshop started with a presentation on the work that has been done since the beginning of the project, followed by an overview of the ongoing and planned restoration activities. Particularly, all participants were very pleased to see the number of different noble tree species’ seedlings that were used in the restoration activities, such as Prunus avium L., Pyrus pyraster L., Acer platanoides L., Acer pseudoplatanus L., Corylus colurna L. They emphasised that SUPERB’s approach greatly differs from business-as-usual in Serbian forestry and appreciated how biodiversity preservation is well considered in the restoration activities.

After a short coffee break, the demo team opened the next session by presenting activities conducted in the past two years and upcoming plans. Two highlights of these past activities are the restoration of an area of 50ha and the planting of 16.920 seedlings during 2022-23! As for this year, the plan is to start the restoration on an area of 80ha using seedlings and natural regeneration where possible. While this session was mainly prepared for forest landowners and managers, participants expressed their interest in how the SUPERB project’s practical approach is backed by science. One of the participants was very interested in the remote sensing activities such as the use of LiDAR remote sensing (implemented by SUPERB colleagues from Bangor University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and was curious about who would come to perform this work and when. The session ended with playing the acoustic recording of the Žiča site, through which participants were able to enjoy different birds’ chirping.

Birds’ chirping recording of the Žiča site

After a wrap up session, the demo team led the participants through a walk in the forest. They visited areas where restoration had already taken place and saw first-hand what had been presented to them during the workshop. Some of the participants had already attended the first stakeholder workshop (also organised by the demo team) and were impressed to see how many of the previously planned activities are now taking shape!

Next steps: bringing more people on board!

Even though the participants expressed their full support to the restoration plans for the demo, there were no private and institutional landowners joining the workshop, and it is very important to have them onboard. Additionally, for the stakeholder engagement strategy, the demo team plans to actively participate in discussions about forest restoration, and to establish links with local communities, including primary schools and recreational forest users. It is of crucial importance to acknowledge the necessity of starting an extended dialogue with a wide range of local stakeholders to increase awareness about the importance of forest restoration and by this, secure their participation and support in the activities of the SUPERB project.

Your input needed to shape the ForestWard Observatory

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Participate in our user need survey to help us understand your needs better. Your input is crucial in designing an observatory that meets the specific requirements of forest management stakeholders like you.

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Engagement means listening first: SUPERB’s Po Valley Demo

Effective stakeholder engagement is key to long-term forest restoration success. Being aware of that, SUPERB’s  Po Valley Demo team, after considering the internal skillset (mainly academic and technical), chose to seek support on this task from experts in this field. 

After a selection process in the private sector for a consulting association, the Po Valley Demo team joined forces with NGO Demetra Onlus, a social promotion and international solidarity organisation working on social engagement in different fields, including counseling on stakeholder inclusion in environmental projects, environmental education in schools, and children playground design for outdoor parks. 

As part of a recent stakeholder engagement workshop that took place in September 2023, at Parco Nord HQ in Milan, Demetra presented a 2-year long stakeholder engagement strategy as a three-fold approach with different focuses: 

  • First, raising school children’s perception and interaction with the area in concert with the growth of the plantation: environmental talks in local primary schools with visits to the plantation areas, with the idea that the plantation itself will grow together with that particular generation of citizens. First sessions with the students in Legnano (the first SUPERB planting site in the Po Valley area) were successfully carried out. And many teachers at the school asked to repeat the sessions in other classrooms! 
  • Second, a screening of NGOs, civil society actors, public institutions, dog lovers’ associations, bike riding groups, among other common actors that could actively use the area and include them in the strategy development and implementation by making their needs and preferences known to the Po Valley Demo team. 
  • Third, a scouting of the local businesses possibly interested in co-financing the plantation maintenance after the SUPERB project ends in 2025. At that point, synergies between private partners and public municipality could be a win-win situation for both, allowing for a reduction of the public maintenance costs for the municipality and a green marketing possibility for the private sector. 

Demetra, the SUPERB Po Valley team and the local stakeholders are now looking forward to seeing the trees, the environmental knowledge and the engagement grow. Some of this excitement is reflected in the outcomes of activities involving local stakeholders in previous meetings, including families, elderly groups, and sport-related associations, answering the question: How do we involve citizens in the new forest? 

Looking at the forest through stakeholder’s eyes – new ambassadors for SUPERB’s Danish demo

The second SUPERB workshop in the Danish demo was organized by demo lead Naturstyrelsen and focused on promoting a more resilient and diverse forest and nature. Therefore, we invited 13 key stakeholders with different interests and knowledge about the forest’s role in their local community. The workshop aimed at exploring outdoor activities in areas where the forest would become wetter in the future. 
 
The workshop was organized in three steps: a walk in nature to understand the participants’ perceptions of the landscape, the drawing of a collective map guided by photo elicitation, and a general SUPERB questionnaire. Prior to the workshop, we provided participants with background material, including maps and guiding principles, to familiarize themselves with our initiative. 

Engaged participants despite heavy rain
Engaged participants despite heavy rain

During the nature walk, we discovered that most participants did not consider the increasing water levels a problem. Instead, they were more interested in having what was described as “a more engaging nature experience”. The more organized roads and footpath where criticized for being “inorganic”, “too straight” and “too far from nature”. Participants, including horse riders, wheelchair users, orientation runners, birdwatchers, and amateur biologists, expressed their desire for more carefully planned trails that would connect with the SUPERB initiative. They wanted an interactive and tactile experience when moving through the forest. And they supported the project’s plans for increasing water levels and other interventions as long as there were physical ways for the public to engage and experience these changes. 

 
In the photo elicitation activity, stakeholders discussed and ranked pictures of different wet landscapes, which sparked a lively discussion on ethical approaches of spending time in nature and the need for guidance in the forest. Participants suggested that the pathfinding and facilities should reflect the dynamic nature of the project. Furthermore, there was a desire to keep the landscape free from large installations that could disrupt the natural beauty. 
 
Participants also emphasized the importance of rethinking the design of pathfinding in a more dynamic landscape and suggested the involvement of local ambassadors to activate the local communities and provide support for Naturstyrelsen’s initiatives. These ambassadors would serve as “forest-keepers” who could arrange meetings and share their knowledge about Naturstyrelsen’s projects, thus contributing to a larger outreach and community engagement. 

The workshop helped us to identify key challenges related to designing outdoor activities along the lines of the SUPERB initiative. What we thought would be a though discussion about how to maintain old trails in danger of being flooded became a discussion about how to create new and engaging ways of experiencing the changing forest landscape. Looking at the forest through the eyes of our stakeholders helped us understand what they perceived as the most important challenges. Finally, the workshop helped us generate ideas how to foster closer relationships with local communities and develop new “user experiences” when exploring our SUPERB area. 

How to build a forest restoration community 

On November 20-22, 2023, our hybrid SUPERB Restoration Project Festival brought together 25 forest restoration experts in Milan in addition to a vibrant online community. Here we recap the key moments: 

Day 1 started with a deep dive into innovative funding and long-term continuity for forest restoration projects: 

  • Dr. Thomas Campagnaro from the Università degli Studi di Padova shared insights on upscaling approaches in forest biodiversity, including the BOTTOMS-UP project 
  • Antti Leinonen from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland presented the Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO and its success in securing long-term funding. 
  • Dr. Giustino Mezzalira, forestry engineer and consultant, discussed innovative financing for large-scale forest restoration on the Marcesina plateau in Italy. 

Day 2 was all about collaboration and knowledge exchange: 

  • Participants took centre stage and shared best practices on boosting ecosystem resilience, reconciling conflicting goals and objectives, monitoring project successes and building partnership within their respective projects. 
  • The SUPERB Gateway – an upcoming public online database for tools on forest restoration practice, science, governance, and funding – was presented.  
  • Participants completed the SUPERB Practice Questionnaire which aims to bring valuable information from across European forestry projects to this community. Would you like to contribute? Please complete the survey here

On Day 3 we explored the impactful role of storytelling in fostering multistakeholder collaboration in restoration. In this workshop by the European Forest Institute, we drew examples from the SUPERB demonstrator area Vindeläven-Juhtatdahka Biosphere Reserve in Sweden. 

In Milan, the festival concluded with a guided visit led by SUPERB partner Fabio Campana to Parco Nord, the city’s largest urban forest and part of the SUPERB Po Valley demo area. 

The success of the festival was the achievement of our participants and owes much to our diverse speakers on days 2 and 3: 

Lastly, congratulations to Marijan Lozancic on winning the festival’s visual exhibition contest with a video on demining interventions in Bosnian forests! 

A heartfelt thanks to our project partners and speakers for their cooperation, and to all participants for joining us to share their invaluable perspectives and build future partnerships. 

The event was organised by SUPERB partner Prospex Institute. 

Guided visit to Paco Nord urban forest in Milan

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!   

Webinar: Public perceptions of Forest Landscape Restoration

In our upcoming Forest Restoration Talk with IUFRO on 20 September 2023 4pm, we will discuss public perceptions of Forest Landscape Restoration in different regions of the world. Our first speaker, researcher Moses Kanzungu (WSL), will present results from a study on public perceptions of forests they conducted as part of the SUPERB project. Moses comments: “While the perceptions remained consistent across the study regions, the interviews unveiled two distinct classifications of forests. On one hand, forests were recognised as intricate and multifaceted entities, embodying a sense of ‘everything.’ On the other hand, an equally compelling perspective emerged where forests were cherished as unique and isolated havens. This duality in perception provides a fascinating glimpse into how individuals perceive and connect with these vital ecosystems.” 

Our second speaker is Vianny Ahimbisibwe (Thünen Institute), a specialist in land use potentials and ecosystem restoration in Africa. In a recent paper, he analysed the gap between restoration intentions and actual behaviours at the farm level. He emphasises that landscape implementers and facilitators need to work hand in hand for the effective implementation of FLR activities. Vianny will share experiences and lessons-learned from the FLESRA project, focusing on the performance of different silvicultural techniques, their cost-benefit structures and mismatch in actor values and beliefs in the FLR realm.

Finally, Åsa Granberg from the Västerbotten County Administration (Länsstyrelsen Västerbotten) in Sweden will share insights from SUPERB’s Swedish demo, which she is leading as a project manager. In this demo, the local team fosters natural forest configuration and forest connectivity on a landscape scale, improving conditions for biodiversity and indigenous Sami community reindeer husbandry. Their landscape approach also addresses governance challenges linked to the multiple ownership of land, including public, private, forest company and non-industrial private ownership in large- to small-scale gradients.

Register here: Webinar-Registration – Forest Restoration Talks – Zoom

New funding call for climate-smart forestry projects coming soon

FORWARDS is an EU-funded project that will prototype The ForestWard Observatory, a pan-European monitoring and evaluation tool that will help in demonstrating the impact of climate change on forests, guiding decision-making for practical forest management.

Five projects for building new climate-smart forest and forest restoration trials will be supported in the first round of calls by FORWARDS, with a total grant value of EUR 700,000 with a single grant value of maximum EUR 150,000. By the end of July, the application window for this grant call will be opened by EFI – the European Forest Institute. 

Projects resulting from successful submissions are anticipated to commence around the beginning of 2024. Each project has a maximum duration of 18 months. The project will issue numerous additional calls for funding for projects with various themes throughout the remainder of the year and until it is completed. If you work in Climate-Smart Forestry, watch out for the launch at the end of July. The call will be published on EFI’s grants webpage https://efi.int/grants-training/grants.

With a total budget of €14m and more than 19 partners involved, FORWARDS – with the ForestWard Observatory – will provide timely and detailed information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change. The project will also deliver science-based knowledge to guide management using the principles of climate-smart forestry, ecosystem restoration and biodiversity preservation, developed in close consultation with relevant stakeholder groups. To set up The ForestWard Observatory, FORWARDS will launch at least five grant calls with a total value of EUR 6 million to fund 50 projects.

The data and the results from these projects will feed into The ForestWard Observatory.The ForestWard Observatory will be a long-lasting practical tool to support decision making:

  1. at European and national scale to provide a strategic perspective of disturbances, future risks, and critical vulnerabilities and threats to European forests;
  2. at regional and local scale to deliver more operational information for local CSF & Restoration management practice.

By operating at both these scales, the project will help improve the accuracy and timeliness of threat detection for European forests while enabling local management teams to respond promptly using a scientific basis. In this respect, The ForestWard Observatory will draw on available networks and data streams to apply pioneering approaches.

Helping our forests to realize their full potential

SUPERB researchers suggest improvements to Nature Restoration Law

The SUPERB project aims at large scale forest restoration in Europe, combining scientific and practical knowledge to drive actionable outcomes. In our recent policy brief, some of our high-level scientists developed recommendations for changes to the proposed EU Nature Restoration law based on the concepts underpinning our approach to forest restoration. These recommendations prioritize forward-looking restoration strategies by emphasizing ecosystem self-organization and climate change adaptation rather than aiming to restore our forests to past historical states.

Read our policy brief to explore how we can help our forest in Europe to realize their full and positive potential for the future.