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Healthy trees translate to healthy citizens: FORWARDS project kicks off in Umeå!

The ForestWard Observatory to Secure Resilience of European Forests is one step closer to becoming reality. On the 30th and 31st of January, the FORWARDS consortium and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) – project coordinator – kicks off the project in Umeå.

30-31 January, 2023 – Climate change has already had a deleterious impact on forests ecosystems and silviculture in various parts of the world. But healthy trees translate to healthy citizens: everyone benefits from forests’ clean air, safe food and water, and recreational space.
With a total budget of €14m and more than 19 partners involved, FORWARDS – with the ForestWard Observatory – will provide timely and detailed information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change. The project will also deliver science-based knowledge to guide management using the principles of climate-smart forestry, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity preservation.
In fact, forests and society are able to transform, adapt, and mitigate climate-induced changes.

During the kick-off meeting, the project partners had the opportunity to discuss the activities they will implement and to present the main goals and steps of their most crucial tasks in the coming months in FORWARDS. The meeting included two workshops: the first one about stakeholders’ mapping and engagement, organised by ESSRG, and the second one about impact assurance indicators, organised by ICONS.

The project will include 5 demo-sites plus ~50 trials established via grants to third parties. The five demo-sites are Hemiboreal Forests, Latvia; Central Apennines, Italy; Vindelälven Biosphere Reserve, Sweden; Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, UK; and Alpine region in Switzerland.
The ambition is for the ForestWard Observatory to become an established instrument to support decision-making across scales to boost the uptake of good CSF & Restoration management practices throughout Europe, while efficiently informing about climate change, disturbance impacts and resilience of European forests.