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Boosting forest ecosystems: Key learnings

By Platform

On 14 December 2023, the Policy Learning Platform organised an online workshop on boosting forest ecosystems

Forests are the largest terrestrial ecosystem in the EU. They host most biodiversity on land and contribute substantially to carbon storage and sequestration. Whilst forest ecosystems have shown improvements in the last decades, they are still facing destructive pressures such as pollution or pests and forest fires, which are intensified by climate change. In light of these pressures, the new EU Forest Strategy for 2030 sets a vision and concrete actions for increasing the quantity and quality of European forests and for strengthening their protection, restoration and resilience.

The workshop focused in particular on sustainable forest management and water in forests and benefitted from excellent keynote presentations by Bernhard Wolfslehner from European Forest Institute/Forest Europe, David Ellison from ETH Zurich and Marco Onida from the European Commission. In addition, four outstanding good practices from Finland, Italy, Slovenia and Spain have been presented by the Interreg Europe community illustrating how to improve the quality of forest ecosystems at local and regional level. 

Online workshop recording

Explore the recording of the online workshop below. 

Webinar agenda

The workshop was designed and moderated by Magda Michaliková and Astrid Severin, Thematic Experts for a Greener Europe. 

00:01:04 Introduction to the workshop and topic by Magda Michaliková, Thematic Expert for a Greener Europe

Session I

00:12:30 Keynote speech by Bernhard Wolfslehner from European Forest Institute/Forest Europe on guidelines for sustainable forest management and afforestation

00:25:05 Q&A: How would you say we can best monitor the health of a forest ecosystem over time?

00:27:20 Q&A: What are the main barriers to the uptake of the policies and theories?

00:28:44 Q&A: Would you say there is enough awareness at the policy level of the risks and difficulties we have in forests such as climate adaptation?

00:30:22 Q&A: How difficult or easy is it to reconcile different management practices across Europe, considering different cultures and environments?

00:34:28 Presentation by Marjana Westergren from the Slovenian Forestry Institute on forest management plans in Slovenia (BIOGOV)

00:43:43 Q&A: Does the high number of private ownership affect how you manage and involve stakeholders?

00:45:50 Q&A: How do floodings affect your planning? Is it already included in your planning as risk management?

00:50:00 Presentation by Carlotta Bonvicini from the Municipality of Reggio Emilia on Urban Forestation Plan (PROSPERA)

01:00:25 Q&A: What is your experience in your city and region with the maintenance of such new plantings?

01:02:43 Q&A: How much did the analysis with LIDAR cost for the whole city? And is it common for Italian cities of mid-size to have climate adaptation strategies?

Session II

01:05:57 Keynote speech by David Ellison from Natural Resources Policy Group, Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Land Systems and Sustainable Land Management, Geography, University of Bern on Even Cooler Insights: On the Power of Forests (to water the Earth) and Cool the Planet

01:20:44 Q&A: What is the optimal density of forest or tree cover in terms of numbers for temperate forest ecosystems? Are there any estimates?

01:22:20 Q&A: What do you think can be done to get a better perception to is the right way of approaching this?

01:25:37 Presentation by Teresa Baiges from the Centre de la Proprietat Forestal (Spain) on forests for water in Catalonia (PROGRESS)

01:38:57 Presentation by Matti Virkkunen from Suomen metsäkeskus (Finnish Forest Centre) on the regional forest program in Central Finland (NACAO)  

01:52:51 Q&A: What are the main lessons learnt from today's workshop? Plenary session

02:00:49 Keynote speech by Marco Onida from the European Commission on the New EU Forest Strategy 2030

Key learnings
  • There is no one size fits all approach and sustainable forest management has to adapt to local needs;
  • Work on breaking the silos i.e. better linking forestry and water management;
  • Focus on planting trees, restoration and maintenance of forests and stop deforestation;
  • Invest in communication, awareness raising and engagement with a broader public and among different groups of stakeholders;
  • Improve dialogue of local and regional authorities with scientists to ensure better forest management;
  • Share good practices with other regions in Europe i.e. through Interreg Europe and other programmes;
  • Encourage solutions for planting on agricultural land (46%) and lobby for change of legislation re. trees on agricultural land (CAP);
  • Analyse where the local landscape can be altered and improved, increase forest and wetland cover; diversify peatland forests;
  • Use natural regeneration and aim for high diversity in forests to develop greater resilience towards external disturbances;
  • Know your data and analyse the situation in order to make the right decisions. 

Download the presentations below. 

Climate change