Towards resilient European forests

Building the ForestWard Observatory, a pan-European monitoring and evaluation tool, to demonstrate climate change impacts on forests and to guide decision-making for better forest management.

Forests and society can transform, mitigate and adapt to climate-induced changes thanks for climate-smart forestry (CSF). Drawing on this and alongside stakeholders, FORWARDS will develop tools for pan-European and spatially explicit projections on forests and for regionalised CSF & Restoration roadmaps. The aim is to evaluate synergies and trade-offs regarding conversion and restoration activities.

The ambition of FORWARDS will be to prototype The ForestWard Observatory – a European observatory for forests climate change impacts – a long-lasting practical tool to support decision making:

  • at European and national scale to provide a strategic perspective of disturbances, future risks, and critical vulnerabilities and threats to European forests;
  • at regional and local scale to deliver more operational information for local CSF & Restoration management practice.

The ForestWard Observatory will provide:

  • timely and detailed information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change impacts
  • science-based knowledge to guide management using the principles of climate-smart forestry, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity preservation (CSF & Restoration)
  • stakeholder engagement and public participation in decision-making processes.

How to achieve this?

By operating at different scales, the project will help improve the accuracy and timeliness of threat detection for European forests while enabling local management teams to respond promptly using a scientific basis. In this respect, The ForestWard Observatory will draw on available networks and data streams to apply pioneering approaches. FORWARDS will analyse factors influencing forest owners’ decisions. It will document current restoration activities concerning forests, wood provision, biodiversity, carbon, and soils. This analysis aims to ensure that different measures can meet policy objectives effectively. Thanks to the ForestWard Observatory, FORWARDS will reconcile the current divide between forest information obtained from the ground and remote sensing. This will be achieved by incorporating the concept of monitoring supersites and novel approaches to more comprehensively characterize cause-effect relationships of forest disturbances.

FORWARDS has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Programme under grant agreement no. 101084481

Our main tasks

ESSRG’s main responsibility in the FORWARDS project is to lead Task4.2 on stakeholder engagement. As part of this task, ESSRG co-creates a stakeholder engagement strategy together with project partners. This strategy will provide the general framework on how to engage diverse actors in co-designing the ForestWard Observatory and co-producing the research results, and it will also contain tools that can be used in a tailor-made manner at different stages of the project. On top of this, ESSRG will help other project partners to apply stakeholder engagement tools (i.e. by tailoring a selected tool to the specific needs of the project partner, by facilitating meetings, or by running specific engagement activities ourselves), and will support co-learning across project partners by dedicated sessions at project meetings. Engagement activities will be monitored and evaluated, and as a final outcome, ESSRG will prepare a report on best practices to engage different stakeholders in research and decision-making related to forest management.


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