Governing Europe's forests for multiple ecosystem services: Opportunities, challenges, and policy options

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Europe's forest provide multiple ecosystem services for societies, ranging from provisioning (e.g. wood) and regulating (e.g. climate mitigation and biodiversity) to cultural (e.g. recreation) services. In this paper, we assess the state and prospects of forest ecosystem services provision in Europe, introducing new data from the European collaborative research projects SINCERE, NOBEL and CLEARING HOUSE, and combining it with findings from the literature. We identify six challenges (1 an insufficient alignment of FES supply and demand, 2 lacking policy integration, 3 ambiguous and conflicting regulatory frameworks, 4 a lack of precise information on FES demand and provision, and innovations to align both, 5 an increasing pressure to adapt to climate change, and 6 a striking diversity constraining European level policy solutions) and three opportunities (1 increasingly heterogenous forest owner objectives potentially matching pluralistic societal demands, 2 diversifying forest enterprises levering innovations in regulating and cultural ecosystem services provision, and 3 the potential of forests to mitigate climate change). Subsequently, we introduce four distinct but complimentary policy pathways for European forest policy to better align forest ecosystem services provision and demand: 1 Better monitoring of FES supply and demand, 2 Enhanced policy integration, 3 Payments for ecosystem services, and 4 Bottom-up participation and learning among ecosystem services innovators. We conclude by emphasizing the momentum that the EU Green Deal unfolds for a future European forest policy to incentivise the provision of multiple forest ecosystem services.

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Winkel, G., Lovrić, M., Muys, B., Katila, P., Lundhede, T., Pecurul, M., Pettenella, D., Pipart, N., Plieninger, T.,  Prokofieva, I.,  Parra, C., Pülzl, H., Roitsch, D., Roux, J-L.,  Thorsen, B.J., Tyrväinen, L., Torralba, M., Vacik,H., Weiss, G., Wunder, S. 2022. Governing Europe's forests for multiple ecosystem services: Opportunities, challenges, and policy options. Forest Policy and Economics, 145, 102849.