FORWARDS - The ForestWard Observatory to secure resilience of European forests

FORWARDS will prototype The ForestWard Observatory to provide (a) timely and detailed information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change impacts, (b) science-based knowledge to guide management using the principles of climate-smart forestry, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity preservation (CSF & Restoration), and (c) stakeholder engagement and public participation in decision-making processes. We capitalize on data from existing networks (e.g. ICP Forests) and expand this with a Network of Pilot sites through 5 FORWARDS Demo cases plus ~50 trials established via grants to third parties. We will reconcile the current divide between forest information obtained from the ground and remote sensing by incorporating the concept of Monitoring Supersites and novel approaches to more comprehensively characterize cause-effect relationships of forest disturbances. Tools for European-wide forward-looking and spatially explicit projections on forests as well as regionalized CSF & Restoration trajectories will be developed jointly with stakeholders to evaluate synergies and trade-offs of conversion and restoration activities. These will be used to provide good practice guidance on effective CSF & Restoration management practices. The ForestWard Observatory will be constructed under the principle of co-design to address the information needs by users and stakeholders. FORWARDS interacts with several established networks on CSF & Restoration and effectively utilizes five dedicated grant calls to implement forest observations and test CSF & restoration measures. The ambition is for The ForestWard Observatory to become a long-lasting legacy of FORWARDS, which supports decision making across scales to boost the uptake of good CSF & Restoration management practice throughout Europe (local scale for management practice), while efficiently informing about climate change and disturbance impacts and resilience of European forests (regional to EU scale for policy making).

EFI leads WP3 on Restoration and Climate-Smart Forest management practices and contributes to WP4 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 – e.g. SUPERB, RESONATE, 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.

FORWARDS has received funding from the EU Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 101084481.

Project management
Hans Verkerk,
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU
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