The future of European forests: the paradigm shift from forestry to socialecological forest management

Organized by: Pierre Ibisch, Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany; Nuria Selva, Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Poland; Stefan Kreft, Naturwald Akademie, Lübeck, Germany; Peter Hobson, Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Writtle University College, UK

The symposium is characterized by inter- and transdisciplinary analyses of forests as complex socioecological systems. The naturally continuous ecosystems have been greatly reduced and fragmented by land use and infrastructure; forestry use has led in large parts to the predominance of unnatural systems, in the worst case young, species-poor or monocultures of uniform aged stands. Environmental conditions are made worse by the presence of permanent roads, trails and by the use of large, industrial-scale machinery. The vulnerability of forests to pressures such as overexploitation and climate crisis is unprecedented. The danger of forest fires is growing, the onset of extreme droughts and heat waves as well as insect damage and diseases are causing trees to die across entire landscapes. Conventional responses in forest practice to tree dieback such as salvage logging, the thinning of semi-intact forests, as well as reforestation with exotic species add further stress to already weakened ecosystems. Public interest in forests is growing. It is becoming clear that, in addition to wood as a raw material, the essential regulating ecosystem services such as carbon storage, cooling of landscapes, water retention are inextricably linked to human wellbeing. At the same time, there is enormous uncertainty and far-reaching challenges for forest practitioners and decision-makers. The economic viability of previous forestry models is no longer given, the state has to intervene with subsidies - it is time to implement adequate reward systems for forest ecosystem services based on objective measurements. Existing laws relating to forests are no longer appropriate to meet the current and future challenges. The EU Forest Strategy faces a variety of criticisms and strong support. Some states have embarked to develop new conceptual frameworks and instruments for conservation and sustainable management of forests. Forest management needs to integrate ecological knowledge and an ecosystem approach much better.

Selected references:
Blumröder, J.S., W. Härdtle, F. May & P.L. Ibisch (2021): Forestry contributed to warming of forest ecosystems in northern Germany during the extreme summers of 2018 and 2019. Ecological Solutions and Evidence. DOI: 10.1002/2688-8319.12087

Gohr, C., J.S. Blumröder, D. Sheil & P.L. Ibisch (2021): Quantifying the mitigation of temperature extremes by forests and wetlands in a temperate landscape. Ecological Informatics 66, 101442.

Kati, V., T. Hovardas, M. Dieterich, P.L. Ibisch, B. Mihok & N. Selva (2014 online; 2015 print): The challenge of implementing the European network of protected areas Natura 2000. Conservation Biology 29: 260-270 (doi: 10.1111/cobi.12366).

Křenová Z, Kindlmann P. 2015. Natura 2000 – Solution for Eastern Europe or just a good start? The Šumava National Park as a test case. Biological Conservation 186: 268–275.
 
Selva, N., P. Chylarecki, B.-G. Jonsson P.L. Ibisch (2020): Misguided forest action in EU Biodiversity Strategy. Science 6498: 1438-1439.

Valasiuk, S., M. Czajkowski, M. Giergiczny, T. Zylicz, K. Veisten, I. Landa Mata, A. H. Halse, M. Elbakidze, and P.
Angelstam. (2018): Is Forest Landscape Restoration Socially Desirable? A Discrete Choice Experiment Applied to the Scandinavian Transboundary Fulufjället National Park Area”. Restoration Ecology. 26: 370–80.

Presentations
The EU Forest Strategy, the opposition and the way forward
Anna Deparnay-grunenberg (European Parliament, Belgium)

Rewilding managed forests: evidence, challenges, and prospects
Peter Hobson (Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Writtle University College, UK)

Social-ecological forest management as a strategy in the concatenant forest, biodiversity and climate crises
Pierre Ibisch (Centre for Econics And Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany)

Ecosystem based forest management in the city forest of Lübeck
Knut Sturm (Stadtwald Lübeck, Germany)