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.