Investigating European forests’ vulnerability to climate change

New FORWARDS project will work with SUPERB to deliver science-based knowledge to guide management using the principles of climate-smart forestry, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity conservation.

With a total budget of €14m funded by the European Commission’s HorizonEurope (plus additional funding by Switzerland and the UK) and more than 19 partners involved, the FORWARDS project (ForestWard Observatory to Secure Resilience of European Forests) will provide timely and detailed information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change. With its activities, FORWARDS aims at supporting European forests and society to transform, adapt, and mitigate climate-induced changes.

The project will include 5 demo-sites plus circa 50 grants to third parties to e.g. establish trials. The five demo-sites are Hemiboreal Forests, Latvia; Central Apennines, Italy; Alpine region in Switzerland, and Vindelälven Biosphere Reserve, Sweden as well as Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Scotland, the latter also both demonstration sites in SUPERB.

The ForestWard Observatory will be constructed under the principle of co-design to address the information needs by users and stakeholders. The project’s ambition for the Observatory is to become an established instrument to support decision-making across scales to boost the uptake of good climate smart forestry and ecosystem restoration management practices throughout Europe, while efficiently informing about climate change, disturbance impacts and resilience of European forests.

FORWARDS is coordinated by SUPERB partner Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. SUPERB coordinator European Forest Institute (EFI) leads the work package on Restoration and Climate-Smart Forest management practices and contributes to the work package on Knowledge platform: a multi-actor forum for integrating stakeholder & civil society perspectives. EFI will also launch and manage grants to third parties to set up the ForestWard Observatory, and support the implementation and scaling-up of climate-smart restoration pilots. Finally, EFI will lead a task on policy dialogue and international cooperation. This means establishing close links and cooperation patterns with other European projects under the same or other calls – in addition to SUPERB also, Holisoils – European Forest Soils – HoliSoils and ForestPaths – in joint communication and dissemination activities, participation in working groups and regular exchange of inputs and sharing of experiences in the context of forestry and climate change as well as joint workshops and webinars, press releases, social media support and exchange. Other SUPERB partners involved in FORWARDS are Wageningen Research leading a task on data assimilation routines and processing tools, as well as Forest Research UK and University of Florence. Finally, SUPERB partner Prospex Institute is in charge of the stakeholder engagement activities.

You can follow the FORWARDS project on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Featured image: Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Scotland