Previous Forest Task Force workshops
Workshop 2008: Biologically Important Forests - megacorridors of the European wilderness?
“Wilderness” as a concept referring to the IUCN category I of protected areas is defined as a large unmodified or slightly modified area, retaining its natural character and influence, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural condition. However, the origin of wilderness conservation dates back to as early as 1885 in North America where the concept found fertile ground and support among prominent individuals such as John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall and Howard Zahnizer. The preservation of wilderness became an important pillar of
In our largely “man-made” Continent adopting the wilderness concept encounters serious problems both in terms of the natural world and human societies. Unlike
In early history, civilization was limited and wilderness was vast and appeared threatening. Today this has turned completely around: wilderness itself is threatened. Except for the areas in the remote Northern regions, the least productive areas of Fennoscandia and Western Siberia (thus mostly outside EU) and the least accessible parts of mountain ranges, Europe did not preserve any truly wild areas on a scale comparable to the situation in the New World. Reserving the wilderness “tag” to vast tracks of unmanaged ecosystems that developed as a result of long-lasting, unconstrained natural history would exclude almost entirely the applicability of the wilderness concept to our realm and make our discussion purely academic. Because of this , our European wilderness concept should be considered as a wide-ranging concept of the future rather than restricted to the very limited and degraded current wilderness resources. Scarcity of existing wilderness areas in
The case of the Šumava NP, nowadays a very strong advocate of wilderness, proves that wilderness can become a core conservation concept also in
OUR CONTRIBUTION: BUILDING UP THE MOMENTUM
There are a number of initiatives stemming from the conviction that the existing set of conservation tools is not able to avert the danger of the loss of
An outstanding initiative is one led by the PAN Parks Foundation (www.panparks.org). Its goal is to establish a network of effectively managed and independently verified wilderness protected areas. Establishing a
The BirdLife approach to wilderness is based on a project carried out by the European Forest Task Force: the mapping of Europe’s Biologically Important Forests (www.forestmapping.net). A Biologically Important Forest (BIF) is a forest that has remained in a natural or close to a natural state and is considered a key area for the protection of forest-dependent species, those species requiring a certain amount and quality of suitable habitat to survive and maintain a favourable population status. European BIFs are identified using a set of criteria comprising country-specific indicators. Identification of BIFs can play a fundamental role in the delineation of the large high nature value landscapes with the biggest potential of wilderness restoration, where major conservation efforts should be allocated.
In 2008 a number of NGOs (including IUCN, IUCN-WCPA, EUROPARK Federation, WWF, Countdown 2010, BirdLife Int., PAN Parks Foundation) established a joint initiative aiming to support the development of a European strategy for wilderness; to provide a coordinated voice in policy representation, and to promote the full value of wilderness potential. The initiative called "Wild Europe" has issued a resolution calling on the European Commission to “develop appropriate recommendations that provide guidance to the EU member states on the best ways of ensuring the protection of present and potential wilderness or wildlands and their natural processes.” The Wild Europe Initiative will be a key partner to the European Commission and EU Presidency that organizes in 2009 in
Do we need wilderness in
Do we need wilderness in
Among the most important reasons for wilderness conservation are the preservation of biodiversity, a resource for research and education and gene reservoir for managed ecosystems, the potential for ecotourism and sustainable economic development. Important social benefits will also inevitably flow from this type of development.
There are remnants of wilderness in
A model for wilderness conservation in
Although space is limited for large scale natural landscape dynamics, an adequate management of landscapes, based on thorough identification of their most important natural features, can lead to the restoration
BirdLife’s Eurpean Forest Task Force expresses its greatest thanks to the contributors:
Professor Dr Wolf Shroeder (Technical University Muenchen) – “Wilderness Conservation in
Mr Toby Aykroyd (Wild Europe Initiative) “WILD EUROPE: protection
Dr Rastislav Jakuš (Institute of Forest Ecology, SAS, Zvolen, Slovakia) „Risk associated with wildness areas in spruce ecosystems
Dr Zdenka Křenová (Šumava National Park, Czech Republic) – “Case study – National park Šumava/ National park Bavarian Forest - Wild heart of Europe”
Mr Alois Lang (IUCN, Office in Neusield
Dr Katalin Mázsa (
Dr Vlado Vančura (Pan Parks Foundantion) – “Wilderness initiative in
Workshop 2007: How do you know a forest is doing FINE?
In October 2007 BirdLife’s European Forest Task Force held its 6th annual meeting in Białowieża, Poland. As usual, the meeting began with international seminar and workshops, which this year were devoted to various aspects of forest ecological indicators. The subject has attracted a multinational selection of experts representing BirdLife’s partner organizations, the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, Universities and the European Environmental Agency.
INDICATORS: WHAT CRITERIA SHOULD THEY MEET?
Forest indicators are necessary to assess the state of, and changes to, forest habitats which are subject to external pressures. Because forests are the most complex terrestrial ecosystems, finding appropriate indicators is not an easy task. The challenge is to find a single, universal indicator that is capable of promptly responding to habitat changes, represents a wide spectrum of other forest components, has a strong scientific footing, is easy to use and sends a convincing message to the target audience (politicians, public, etc.). Some of the candidates for such indicators reveal almost ideal scientific-ecological characteristics, but are very difficult to use, others would perform perfectly but their response to environmental changes does not allow an easy, clear cut interpretation (Introduction to indicators – types of indicators, what makes a species good indicator, limitations and possibilities).
BIRDS: GOOD OR BAD FOREST INDICATORS?
Birds are relatively easy to census, ubiquitous and regularly monitored by a pool of hundreds of skilled voluntary and professional observers throughout Europe. Common birds’ monitoring is organized by national coordination centres, usually BirdLife Partners, with pan-European coordination provided by the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Team, European Bird Census Council (EBCC, www.ebcc.info), and Statistics Netherlands (Common Bird Indicators: methodology, achievements and challenges, Dr Petr Vorisek ). The Common Bird Index (CBI) proved to be an efficient indicator of farmland environment quality and was adopted by the EU as an official Structural and Sustainable Development Indicator. It reveals a continuous decrease in farmland-common bird populations in Europe during last twenty years.
An analogous index for forest habitats is also being developed. However, due to the complexity and fragmentation of forests in Europe, a forest bird indicator must be tested for ecological robustness. How do particular bird species react to various driving factors that induce quantitative and qualitative changes in the forest habitat? How does their response vary between biogeographical regions ("Opportunities and limitations of using birds as forest indicators", Mr Maris Strazds)? For example, the transformation of a large semi-natural forest ecosystem to a mosaic of monoculture plantations with some residues of old growth will result in the decrease of hole-breeding Crested Tits and increase of ground breeding Tree Pipit. Therefore, the proper interpretation of trends in forest bird populations will depend on adequate species selection and “calibration” with more sensitive taxa in regard to bioregional differences.
Black Stork and Capercaillie are both considered good indicators of high quality natural forest habitats. Nevertheless, they also should be used with caution and awareness that the forest habitat might not be the only factor to be reflected by their population trends. In the case of Black Stork, artificial environmental structures may contribute either to growth of the population (e.g. establishment of ditches – new foraging sites) or to its decrease (e.g. by causing disturbance during their creation). Another source of error is observation inaccuracy where the intensity of changes in population densities of these birds cannot be explained by any factor other than subjective over- and underestimation by observers.
MEASURING DEAD WOOD VOLUME IN SELECTED FOREST TYPES FOR BIODIVERSITY ASSESSMENT
Forest indicators are also at the core of interest of various EU institutions and initiatives. One of the major achievements of the European Environmental Agency was the project “Indicators for monitoring and evaluation of forest biodiversity in Europe BEAR” that identified and classified European-level Forest Types for Biodiversity Assessment (FTBAs), defined key factors of biodiversity in European forests, and proposed a list of candidate indicators. It seems that any further attempts to harmonise forest monitoring on a European scale should refer to that system ("Indicators, monitoring and assessment framework for European forest biodiversity - 1/2, 2/2, Dr Tor-Bjorn Larsson). So did the pilot phase of the “Old Wood” project, led by the Polish BirdLife partner (OTOP) and FTF in 2006-2007. Structural characteristics related to forest biodiversity (e.g. dead wood, veteran trees, hollow and cavity trees, old growth phase of stands) were assessed on ca. 100 plots representing four FTBAs in Poland (http://oldwood.eu.interia.pl, "Forest indicators FINE–Old Wood project: results presentation" - 1/2, 2/2, Dr Andrzej Bobiec). The highest amount of dead wood was found in the long-lasting strict preserves representing lowland oak-hornbeam and montane beech forests. Interestingly, while the lowland forests outside the strict preservation zone are significantly poorer regarding dead wood, in mountains the difference was not significant suggesting that remoteness and difficult accessibility of an area is the major factor making a forest less affected by humans. Furthering “Old Wood” as FINE (Forest INdicators for Europe) through its extension to new European regions and development of additional monitoring components (inventory of selected taxa, such as invertebrates, birds, polyporous fungi) would be another step towards an integrated system of forest indicators as recommended by PECBM and EEA.
The seminar was followed by three workshops exploring the following problems:
2006 Workshop: The Global Importance of the Boreal Forest: Migratory Birds and the Paper Industry (Clare College, Cambridge, UK)
The 2006 FTF workshop was organised as part of a larger NGO symposium “The Global Importance of the Boreal Forest: Migratory Birds and the Paper Industry”, held from 11-13 September in Cambridge. The forest bird indicator topic was introduced by one of the keynote-speakers — Prof. Sören Svensson of Lund Unversity, Sweden. The discussion centred around the viability of various boreal bird species as potential indicators of natural conditions in forests: residents, short-distance migrants, and longdistance migrants. Prof. Svensson showed that species trends in Sweden and Finland correlated well, so they can be used to construct common Fennoscandian forest indices. Probably the data tell us something about trends also in the Baltic States and westernmost Russia. Professor Svensson discussed, among the other things, whether an indicator should be related to biodiversity in general, or to indicate a specific set of properties using a small set of specialist species. On the basis of the presented results it was recommended that there should be one forest indicator based on specialist bird species that correlate strongly with a high degree of “naturalness” in boreal forest and one general biodiversity indicator for boreal and hemiboreal region. The former should use resident old-growth and swamp forest birds while the latter one should include forest birds in general.
Co-hosts were the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, BirdLife International, Boreal Birdsong Initiative, ForestEthics, and UNEP – World Conservation Monitoring Centre with support from the Environmental Paper Network, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and others.
2005 Workshop: Developing Economic Benefits of Protected Areas & Ecotourism (Central Balkan National Park, Bulgaria)
In October 2005, BirdLife’s European Forest Task Force held its fourth annual meeting, focused on development of sustainable ecotourism and its potential for aiding forest conservation, in the foothills of the Central Balkan National Park in Bulgaria. Certified by PAN Parks, Central Balkan is one of Europe’s cornerstones of developing wilderness network guaranteeing high level of protection and sustainability of tourism. The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/BirdLife Bulgaria and Central Balkan National Park hosted the seminar co-funded by BirdLife International, Finnish Ministry of the Environment and UNDP Bulgaria. The FTF would like to express its gratitude to all of the above as well as to all speakers and their organizations.
The rural income generation and increased employment are the basic social and economic goals when one is focusing on sustainable forest management. Ensuring local benefits from tourism is vital to anything that can be called sustainable. These goals are also pursued by the EU in order to achieve the objective for improving quality of life in rural areas. Among the outstanding opportunities to diversify the local economies is the ecotourism.
The Tourism industry is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. The statistics show that about half of the international tourists nowadays are looking to break the monotony of their holidays through experiencing new horizons such as being in the wilderness. Holidaymakers are becoming more environmentally aware people, eager to visit places of conservation value. At the same time Europe remains the largest tourist market in the world. With the Europeans mostly preferring to travel close to their homes and the increasing demand for conservation related holidays it could be expected that the tourist growth on the Old Continent would result into more frequent and also more conscious visits to Nature and National parks.
ECOTOURISM WOULD BE SUSTAINABLE ONLY IF PART OF THE GENERATED INCOMES GO BACK FOR NATURE CONSERVATION PURPOSES
Tourists expect to get high quality products for their money. Moreover, they would appreciate to know that part of their money contribute to nature conservation. However, besides contributing to nature conservation tourism developments could also destroy the base of its own existence. One of the major concerns expressed by the workshop participants was the easiness the ecotourism could become devastating for the nature. Habitat degradation, soil erosion and pollution, species decline are very likely to take place unless good management and control are applied. Excessive visitor number as one of the effects of mass tourism causes problems particularly in areas hosting vulnerable to disturbance species and habitats, to mention as an example high mountains made accessible by ski-lifts. The mass attractions and ecotourism profits going back to large external companies put on a shaky ground the sustainability. To prevent this from happening it is of key importance to have in place environmental education, ecological awareness raising and not the least good management planning. For the sake of preventing negative impact of tourism development and ensuring the success of tourist enterprises, the protected areas management plans should include appropriate business planning with scientific and socio-economic aspects. The plan ought to envisage the benefits for the local people from the very beginning – income raising, employment opportunities, improved infrastructure, and for nature conservation - lobbying, awareness rising, and sufficient management capacity. Creation even of small number of jobs can be significant for remote rural areas. Experience in the U.K. shows that well-designed reserves can accomodate large visitor numbers with good yields for both people and wildlife.
“The source and nature of financing depends entirely on the type of the attraction we want to finance…” stated Paul Morling – an economics expert and a key speaker at the seminar. If the ecotourism is an appropriate opportunity to be developed resources could be sought from direct government provisions to private grants and foundations. At the same time ecotourism in itself is a funding generation source for conservation.
Existence of collaboration and good cooperation was highlighted to be beneficial not only to tourism development but also for biological studies, environmental education and raising awareness about nature.
The FTF open workshop was attended by more than 60 people from 14 European countries. Regardless of countries’ environmental and cultural specifics it was inferred that provided high nature values are present the environmentally–friendly tourism can be a feasible and worthwhile alternative of forest exploitation anywhere.
- Birdwatching tourism in Finland (PDF, 3 MB)
- Ecotourism markets (PDF, 886 KB)
- Financing & Ecotourism (PDF, 1 MB)
- PAN Parks corporate handout (PDF, 81 KB)
- The Nature of Ecotourism (PDF, 2 MB)
- Transboundary Cooperation, Oulanka-Paanajarvi NP, Finland, Pt. 1 (Powerpoint, 3 MB)
- Transboundary Cooperation, Oulanka-Paanajarvi NP, Finland, Pt. 2 (Powerpoint, 4 MB)
2004 Workshop: Forest Legislation and Biodiversity (Berlin, Germany)
The 2004 annual workshop of the BirdLife European Forest Task Force was held in Berlin with hosts NABU, the BirdLife Partner in Germany. The event was sponsored by BirdLife International, the German Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, to whom the Forest Task Force extends sincere thanks. Participants debated how far forest legislation can go in biodiversity protection, and whether declining forest biodiversity needs new laws or better implementation of existing ones.
Although the main stated goal of most forest legislature today is maintaining and promoting the sustainable use of forests, in practice most legislation and above practical policy falls short of this goal from the ecological perspective. National Forest Acts in Europe differ significantly from each other, and there is considerable variation in national legislative processes. This fact was also highlighted in the new BirdLife publication launched at the meeting, How Much, How To? Practical tools for Forest Conservation
The topic is especially current in eastern Europe, where protecting forest biodiversity will depend critically on harmonising commercial forest and conservation interests. In many countries forest legislation has been updated in the 1990s to better comply with international conservation agreements and their guidelines. Additionally the EU forest strategy is a timely matter for all member countries. The topic of the workshop was commented to be especially current and important.
The Forest Task Force’s workshop brought together environmental NGO experts, legal experts, as well as national forestry and environment officials from around Europe to compare and evaluate the efficiency of forest legislation in protecting biodiversity. The objectives were to identify the features of environmentally good and effective forest legislation, to identify gaps in national forest legislation from the point of view of maintaining biodiversity and to encourage and promote the exchange of information on the topic.
Workshop participants came from 16 different countries, the most distant from Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the majority from central and eastern Europe.
Speakers and presentations at the workshop
Overview of forest legislation in Europe
Tim Christophersen, IUCN (PDF, 0.9 KB)
Governmental instruments for the management and protection of forests in Europe
Christopher Prins, UNECE (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Ideal forest legislation from the conservation perspective
Marcus Walsh, BirdLife Forest Task Force (PDF, 200 KB)
Forest conservation and legislation – do we need a stronger role of the EU?
Results of the working group (PDF, 230 KB)
Biodiversity as an object of forest legislation in Europe – national case studies
Maris Stradz, LOB, Latvia (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Harri Hölttä, FANC, Finland (PDF, 44 KB)
Veronica Ferdinandova, BSBP, Bulgaria (PDF, 350 KB)
Rainer Barthel, NABU, Germany (PDF, 500 KB)
Vladimir Fedotov, RBCU, Russia (PDF, 860 KB)
2003 Workshop: Forest Certification (Valmiera, Latvia)
Since more and more critical articles are written on certification’s possibilities to hinder the loss of biodiversity in the world's forests, the Forest Task Force decided to address this difficult topic in the Annual Forest Workshop 2003 held in Latvia.
The workshop topic was partly chosen because of the situation in Poland's Bialowieza – a national park containing high conservation value forest without formal protection (although under certified administration). Among the speakers in Valmiera were Hans Joachim Droste from the FSC (download presentation, 1.1 MB PDF), Joost Van de Velde (download presentation, 340 KB PDF) from the European Commission and population ecologist, Professor Ilkka Hanski (download presentation, 1.3 MB PDF) from the University of Helsinki, Finland. The high level of all presentations inspired many good discussions on certification’s possibilities and limits as to conserving forest species. A special emphasis was put on the so-called High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs), a concept created by the FSC certification to cover ecologically, socially or culturally valuable forests. Although biodiversity protection in commercial forests does decrease the probability of currently abundant species becoming threatened, Professor Hanski emphasised that it is insufficient as such to avoid species going extinct in north and east Europe.
Approximately forty participants attended the workshop and many also took part in the field excursion organised the following day by Latvijas Valsts Meži, part of the Latvian State Forest Enterprise. Besides the opportunity for some birdwatching, the group reviewed forest key habitats left uncut under FSC guidelines currently enforced throughout Latvian national forests.
(Please note that the PDF presentations above from the 2003 Workshop, should not be formatted or used without first obtaining permission from firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Next Page » Forest news