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European Forest Research and Innovation

Final Report Summary - EUFORINNO (European Forest Research and Innovation)

Executive Summary:
European forests are critical to carbon storage, biodiversity conservation, water quality, socio-demographic stability and economic revenue. EUFORINNO has been a mean for the Slovenian Forestry Institute (SFI) as the only forest research institute of national importance in Slovenia to raise its scientific excellence and better exploit its innovative outputs (IP, scientific publishing and networking). The project focused on filling the gaps in 4 RID objectives (genetic monitoring; biodiversity and functional diversity; belowground complexity; and net ecosystem carbon exchange in time and space), in which SFI’s vision is to become a reference centre for Central and South-Eastern Europe, in the European Forest Research and Innovation Area (EUFORIA), and on a global scale.

EUFORINNO relied on 8 excellent research partners, members of the Advisory Board, who supported the SFI in building its long-term strategy, welcome researchers for mobility trainings and participated to install new protocols, through on-site trainings on new methodologies, data analysis and interpretation, and on development of scientific writing and publishing skills.

The national support for EUFORINNO has been strongly expressed by letters of support and further developed through participation of the main national stakeholders, representatives of the forest industry, forest owners, forestry directorate and the research agency, as members of the Advisory Board.

Outcomes of this successful project are an increase of excellence; a deeper integration within the ERA and collaboration with end-users; the recognition of SFI as a research entity of major excellence; and an increase of forestry research excellence and awareness in Europe.

Project Context and Objectives:
European forests are critical to carbon storage, biodiversity conservation, water quality, socio-demographic stability and economic revenue. The Slovenian Forestry Institute (SFI) is the only forest research institute of national importance in Slovenia and has well established European partnerships. SFI’s vision has long been to become a reference centre for Central and South-Eastern Europe in the European Forest Research and Innovation Area (EUFORIA) and on a global scale. EUFORINNO has been a means for SFI to raise its scientific excellence and better exploit its innovative outputs (IP, scientific publishing, and networking). The project has focused on filling in gaps in 4 RID objectives (genetic monitoring; biodiversity and functional diversity; belowground complexity; and net ecosystem carbon exchange in time and space).

Support for EUFORINNO has been strongly expressed during all phases of the project (preparation, implementation, finalisation). EUFORINNO has consistently relied on 8 excellent research partners, who have supported SFI in building its long-term strategy, who welcomed researchers for mobility training, and who participated in installing new protocols through on-site training in new methodologies, data analysis and interpretation, and writing skills.

Expected outcomes of the project have been an increase of excellence; a deeper integration within the ERA and collaboration with end-users; the recognition of SFI as a research entity of major excellence; and an increase of forestry research excellence and awareness in Europe.

Measurable objectives are: equipment upgraded; 6 employees recruited: 3 experienced scientists, 1 innovation and IP manager and 1 technical editor, and an additional librarian to support the Open access repository; 43 visits of SFI researchers out for 54.5 MM of mobilities, and 43 partner visits for 21 MM; publishing (Silva Slovenica boosted); scientific networking (4 conferences organized, over 10 conferences attended); exploitation increase (regional and intercontinental); improved IP management (new office); dissemination (a website, 1 communication package, 8 newsletters); and management (1 RID strategy, 1 sustainability plan, 1 final ex-post evaluation).

The general objective of Work Package 1 - Modern laboratories was to build modern laboratories. The technical excellence of SFI has been increased by acquiring optimal equipment for each of the different methodologies and research themes targeted.

Work Package 2 – Scientific excellence was ambitious since it consisted of a package of activities which taken together enhanced the scientific excellence of the researchers at SFI, their research methodology, and RID outputs:
• recruitment of a senior scientist, a specialised postdoc and a specialised technician
• secondments of SFI researchers at CP facilities (outgoing)
• secondments of CP staff at SFI for on-site training and joint development of SOP (incoming)

SFI has organised scientific workshops and conferences and actively participated in high quality events in Europe to ensure that RID results have been widely visible in the research community.

The main objectives of Work Package 3 – Exploitation and visibility were:
• to ensure a wide recognition of SFI and EUFORINNO
• to strengthen SFI’s capacity to communicate with stakeholders and end-users, including NGOs
• to raise awareness of related stakeholders and wider public on research in forestry
• to exploit scientific results in a sustainable way through regional and intercontinental networking, an improved publishing centre, and good IP management planning

The EUFORINNO dissemination target groups included researchers from similar fields of work (on the European scale): forest and wood processing industries; small and medium size enterprises; decision makers; forest-owners; land owners, forest entrepreneurs, and forestry-owning sawmills; wood consumers, private customers, NGOs, nature and cultural heritage conservation experts; phytosanitary and forestry inspectors; and European citizens.

The objectives of Work Package 4 – Project management and evaluation were threefold:
• introduce within SFI some complementary resources in long-term scientific planning
• ensure that the management of the EUFORINNO project is performed in conformity with the highest EU management standards
• evaluate the overall success of EUFORINNO and the sustainability of the results achieved

The main tasks under this work package consisted of Scientific Management, Technical Management, and Financial and Administrative Management.

The evaluation of the project has been carried out by independent international experts nominated by the European Commission. These experts have studied the project results and impacts, assessed whether the goal of excellence increase has been reached, and further contributed to the institute to sufficiently anticipate the future to build a sustainable excellence.

Project Results:
1. EUFORINNO inputs in SFI foreground

Research and professional activities within SFI are organised within the institute’s six departments, which participate in the Forest Biology, Ecology and Technology Research Programme (P4-0107) as six working groups with their long-term, medium-term (five-year) and yearly programmes. The research programme is supported by the Infrastructural Programme of the Slovenian Forestry Institute (ISGIS). All departments are also involved in Civil Forest Service tasks, for which SFI is granted authority based on Article 74 of the Forestry Act (1993), including delegating tasks of the authorised professional body and government authority for approval of forest seed objects and certification of forest reproductive material, prognostic-diagnostic service for forest health, and administering a national reporting service on carbon pools in forests as part of the Public Environmental Service.

The overall goal of EUFORINNO was to increase excellence of the Slovenian Forestry Institute by developing the means to understand and quantify the structure and function of forests in Slovenia, to extend the same principles in South-East Europe and on a broader scale, and provide the means and practices for international recognition of SFI as an innovative forest research centre.

EUFORINNO combined efforts of predominantly 4 departments of SFI within 4 RID objectives, and 3 supportive transversal non-scientific actions aiming at the institute as a whole. The project components covered the development of observational and experimental techniques to understand forest function, mainly biodiversity and carbon fluxes, and to quantify the impacts of forest management on biodiversity, carbon fluxes, and the associated mechanisms that regulate these functions. For the achievement of RID objectives, 8 partners have contributed to fulfil the EUFORINNO Action Plan in their recognised outstanding fields of expertise.

2. The 4 RID objectives and their results

2.1 A: Development and standardisation of a system for genetic monitoring of forest trees
The problem: Genetic diversity ensures survival and adaptability of forest trees under changing environmental conditions and is needed to maintain the vitality of forests to cope with pests and diseases (Koskela et al. 2007). To assist conservation and management of genetic diversity of forest tree populations, thus enabling continuous adaptability of these populations to future environments, it is becoming increasingly important to monitor consequences of environmental changes and intended or unintended anthropogenic influences on populations (Konnert et al 2011). When artificial regeneration is involved, special care must be taken that the reproductive material used for planting is of a suitable provenance, thereby minimising high risks and low revenues when financial terms are considered (Konnert and Behm, 2006) in addition to ensuring future adaptability.

RID target achievement: Development and standardisation of a system for genetic monitoring of forest trees to facilitate certification of forest reproductive material and implementation of concepts of dynamic conservation of forest genetic resources.

-A1. Development of a system for genetic monitoring of forest trees: identification of how changes in the environment (including habitat fragmentation) and silvicultural measures affect adaptability of forest tree populations - monitoring and comparisons in space and time.
-A2. Implementation of certification of forest reproductive material (origin and quality)
-A3. Establishment of a forest gene bank, a vital component of ex situ conservation measures
Collaborative partner involved: ASP (led by M. Konnert)

Within this RID objective the collaboration centred on a number of secondments aiming at sub-objectives, training, and organisation of joint regional workshops, as well as on upgrading the laboratory for forest genetics. This was the most successful part of the project in the long term since it produced the joint LIFE+ project LIFEGENMON: LIFE for a European forest genetic monitoring system (LIFE13 ENV/SI/000148, lasting from 1 July 2014 till 30 June 2020, combining six partners, with a total value of €5,484,162, of which 49.9% is financed by the EU), which will also produce an After-LIFE Communication Plan. Within this project, indicators and verifiers of forest genetic diversity changes over time will be developed, tested, and implemented on two forest genetic monitoring plots per participating country (Slovenia, Germany and Greece), one for fir and one for beech in each of them, and guidelines for forest genetic monitoring for these two species and an additional five species/species complexes will be prepared. In addition, professional background documents will be prepared for development of national, regional and European legislation and strategies which would also support the After-LIFE Communication Plan of the project. The final outputs will also include a manual for forest genetic monitoring and a decision support system for policymakers to decide which level of forest genetic monitoring to implement in different countries depending on the needs and the means. The project will also provide strong support for general dissemination of the needs and goals for supporting all levels of biodiversity in forests, starting with the first one, i.e. forest genetic diversity, for supporting general knowledge of forests and forestry among the general public (children, pupils, students, teachers, NGOs, different groups), and target audiences (forest owners, managers, forestry enterprises, policymakers, etc). The project has already begun its activities, and EUFORINNO has not only contributed by establishing and leading the team which prepared the proposal, but also contributed to a smooth start of the project, workshops (in Slovenia, Germany and Greece), and technical organisation. Furthermore, it has supported development of special equipment, a drone with a specially designed arm with a cutting/grabbing tool for collection of plant samples from the top of crowns of forest trees (an EU patent has been filed, and the drone has already been presented to audiences from countries participating in LIFEGENMON). LIFEGENMON was also presented at two of the intercontinental EUFORINNO workshops, at the XVI World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, where the interview was broadcast to around 500,000 spectators on the FAO home page, and at the EUFORINNO workshop in Bhutan, as well as at a number of other EUFORINNO events, such as the final conference EUFORIA.

Outputs – protocols and their realisation:
➢ A1: Developed measures for adaptive forest management based on genetic forest protection:
• The measures for adaptive forest management were prepared and presented to Slovenian forestry professionals – heads of departments for silviculture and forest protection of the Slovenia Forest Service, representatives of the forestry directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, representatives of the Forestry Engineers and Technicians Association, forestry scientists and several other participants in September 2014. A series of technical guidelines for conservation of forest genetic resources, based on EUFORGEN technical guidelines and with a foreword as well as an annex on the current state and measures specifically for Slovenia, were published in the main Slovenian professional forestry journal Gozdarski vestnik, and these were compiled into a joint preliminary publication for the workshop in September 2014.
• An overview of concepts and principles for forest genetic monitoring was prepared and included in the LIFEGENMON project proposal and an introductory review paper was presented at the scientific conference organised within EUFORINNO Forest and Wood. Furthermore, a review paper was prepared and will be submitted to Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Overall, the LIFEGENMON project provides a well-designed means to fulfil the development and implementation of the system for forest genetic monitoring as a long-term after-EUFORINNO activity.

These activities were conducted primarily by Dr. Gregor Božič, Dr. Marjana Westergren and Prof. Dr. Hojka Kraigher, in collaboration with ASP, Teisendorf.

➢ A2: Organisation of a DNA bank for certification of forest reproductive material (FRM) in SEE

The Slovenian forest gene bank was established in 1998, and since 2002, when the Forest Reproductive Material Act, harmonised with the directive EU/105/1999, was adopted, it has included the following components:
i) forest seed objects: approved and included in the Register – the national list of approved basic material for production of forest reproductive material: in situ approved forest stands, including forest gene reserves and forest genetic monitoring plots, groups of seed trees, plus trees, ex situ seed orchards (including clonal, as well as conservation seed orchards)
ii) forest stands in protected areas (different categories of protection of nature and forest reserves)
iii) living archives, provenance tests and other ex situ experimental forest trees plots
iv) the seed bank, comprising two main components: a) the long-term storage of recommended quantities of forest seeds of orthodox tree species; and b) the active seed bank, including seeds from each tree within the seed stand from which seeds were collected, intended for molecular identification of the offspring; in 2015 an additional component was added: c) the active LIFEGENMON seed bank, containing seeds from forest genetic monitoring plots in Slovenia, and opened for samples from additional plots from SE Europe
v) The DNA library contains extracted DNA from the active seed bank (see above), from samples of other tissues (wood, leaves, needles, buds) collected on trees which served for certified seed production, and from all populations of forest trees that were subjected to any experimentation or population genetic analysis at SFI. The DNA library of forest trees was only started in 2006; by 2012 the DNA library contained 206 samples of extracted DNA, in 2013 a further 1700 were added, in 2014 750 and in 2015 990 samples of extracted DNA. The part of the DNA library extracted from seeds and plant tissues from trees used for certified seed production is dedicated for molecular identification of the certified FRM.

The Slovenian forest gene bank with its components, and certification of FRM, were supported mainly by ASP Teisendorf, and linked to secondments, training, and conferences attended or organised by Prof. Dr. Hojka Kraigher, Dr. Gregor Božič, Dr. Marjana Westergren, Marko Bajc, Melita Hrenko, Barbara Štupar, and Domen Finžgar.

➢ A3: Developed bioinformatics infrastructure to enable easy and fast access to DNA and seed samples and documentation data

All seed samples received at SFI Laboratory for forest seeds and seedlings are filed according to the SOP FIGE SEED BANK (regarding the organisation of the seed bank see the text above).
The DNA library is stored in a deep freezer at -80oC in accordance with the SOP FIGE MDF-U55V DNA. It is organised on the principle of a coordinate system with the number of the cassette (8 in total) and the location of the box with extracted DNA in the cassette (X, Y coordinates), as described in IMP-OM-SOP for MDF-U55V.
The whole system was developed by Marko Bajc, supported by Barbara Štupar and Melita Hrenko and their secondments at ASP Teisendorf.

➢ A4: Definition of appropriate quantities and conditions for long-term storage of FRM, and
➢ A1-4: Preparation of a long-term funding plan for the gene bank and the FRM certification system

Appropriate quantities for long-term storage of FRM were first regulated in 2003 as part of the Regulation on the conditions for registration of forest seed dealers and nurseries (2003). The calculation was based on the mass of 1000 seeds, predicted time for storage, average germination for this period, and a minimum required number of seedlings produced at the end of the storage. During EUFORINNO the requirements for storage, documentation system, and quantities were checked with respect to the Seed Bank kept at ASP Teisendorf, by the same team as mentioned above.
The long-term funding plan has been included in the Civil Forest Service in accordance with Forestry Act and the Forest Reproductive Material Act. Activities have been undertaken to participate in the corresponding advisory services to the ministry to support long-term funding also in possibly changing legislation.

2.2 B: Biodiversity and functional diversity at gene, species and community level
Problem: Higher biodiversity at gene, species and ecosystem level leads to increased productivity, functioning and resilience of a forest ecosystem in relation to climate change effects (Thompson et al. 2009). To understand the functioning and resilience of a forest ecosystem to changes in the environment the concept of functional biodiversity (i.e. which and how do different species in the diverse complexity of the forests contribute to the functioning of that ecosystem) and defining the specific organisms that the ecosystem functioning relies on is of utmost importance. Special attention needs to be given to key and umbrella species in forest ecosystems, as well as to ‘hidden species’ (such as selected groups of organisms in forest soil and the rhizosphere which are crucial for ecosystem functioning, but still under-studied regarding their potential, diversity and function).

RID target achievement: Development of standardised microscopy techniques as an essential prerequisite to visualise, compare and define taxa in combination with microdissection, and genomic and transcriptomic high-throughput sequencing approaches adapted to forest tree (roots, wood), fungal (mycorrhiza, pathogens) and soil (bacteria, insects,etc.) samples.
Collaborative partner involved: HMGU (led by D. Ernst), SWANSEA (led by D. McCaroll), ULund (led by H. Wallander), a specialised technician/postdoc in microscopy techniques to be employed (M. Zupančič/Dr. Tanja Mrak)

➢ B1: Developed multiuse microscopy and microdissection centre: recruited a specialised postdoc

Dr. Tanja Mrak was employed at the beginning of the project; she helped in preparation of the selection of requirements for the new equipment (microscopes and the microdissection unit), and was responsible for its installation and preparation of SOPs for its utilisation. She worked predominantly on identification of fine roots of forest trees, became a curator for the collection of lichen exsiccates in the Mycotheca and Herbarium of SFI, participated in several research projects and in a number of EUFORINNO activities.

As the equipment of microscopy lab of SFI was outdated and its performance no longer satisfactory, the “Motorised upright research microscope”, “Motorised dissecting microscope” and “Motorised inverted microscope with laser microdissection system” units were purchased and installed within EUFORINNO, with SOPs developed and published. All the units became fully operational soon after installation and the results obtained have already been included in several scientific publications.

The majority of Tanja’s work was devoted to development of identification tools for tree roots thinner than 5 mm in diameter. In cooperation with Dr. Jožica Gričar, a wood anatomist from SFI, she conducted a pilot study on twelve temperate tree species by applying a morphological and an anatomical approach. The progress of work was presented to potential users at several scientific conferences, such as Rhizosphere in Maastricht, Netherlands, at ICOM 8 in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA and at COST action FP 1305 BIOLINK meetings. The outcome of the study was published in February 2016 as an Atlas of Woody Plant Roots, a two-step morphological-anatomical identification key, acknowledging the support from the EUFORINNO project. She was the correspondent co-author in the article by a PhD student from SFI published in CJFR. In cooperation with EUFORINNO partners from ZALF, Dr. Babette Münzenberger and Katja Kühdorf, and she also performed a morphological and an anatomical description of one of the mycorrhizal species of Scleroderma, a globally widespread genus of fungi resistant to drought and increased temperatures. The results of the study were presented at the final EUFORINNO conference at Rogla, Slovenia and will be submitted for publication as an original scientific paper in mid-2016.

Additionally, Dr. Tanja Mrak supported the PhD student Ines Štraus in her PhD dissertation, in which she conducted several functional analyses of the mycorrhizal mycelium at a laser confocal microscopy centre at Celica Biomedical Centre in Ljubljana, and at the project partner ZALF in Müncheberg, applying stable isotopes analysis in response of mycorrhizal beech seedlings to increased temperature (the two papers appeared in CJFR).
Furthermore, the new microscopy centre provided services to a number of papers produced within EUFORINNO by Dr. Tine Grebenc in collaboration with ZALF, CNR-IBAF and a number of other researchers, included in several bilateral projects.

➢ B2: Protocols developed for primer development, large-scale sequencing and data interpretation

Marko Bajc and Tijana Martinović have implemented the next generation sequencing (NGS) method (Illumina MiSeq) for analysis of fungal and bacterial communities in environmental samples, and Domen Finžgar helped in preparation of scripts for their interpretation.

Based on the literature available we selected optimal primers for amplification of rDNA ITS1 and ITS2 regions for analysis of fungal communities and V4 16S rDNA region for bacterial communities. Basic primer sequences were fused with Illumina adapter overhangs in order to skip the ligation step in basic Illumina library preparation protocol.

The majority of laboratory work was done at SFI, including complete library preparation. Protocol for library preparation and optimisation of each step for Illumina MiSeq is now available. The Illumina MiSeq sequencing was performed through Helmholtz, Neuherberg. An example of the pipeline for NGS data analysis using open source was developed as well in collaboration with ULund and PLECO, Antwerp.

➢ B3: Developed molecular analysis and interpretation centre

The Forest Genetics Laboratory moved from the old building into the new laboratories in the ground floor of the main SFI building in 2012, for which new equipment was also purchased through EUFORINNO, and the entire organisation of the work procedures was specified. Moving into new lab space allowed the work flow to be organised in such a way as to enable achieving the accreditation standard requirements. Training on the implementation of ISO 17025:2005 laboratory standards was also organised for SFI personnel, and proved highly beneficial for preparation of SOPs and improvements of laboratory procedures. The operational procedures are specified in SOPs SOP FIGE DNA-80°C, IMP-OM-SOP_MDF-U55V, IMP_LIO-5PLT, OM_FIGE_LIO-5PLT, SOP FIGE LIO-PLANT, IMP-OM FIGE A-21CAV, IMP-OM FIGE ADC-4E, IMP-OM FIGE Centric 200, IMP-OM FIGE HEPA-UV3, IMP-OM FIGE MiniSpin Plus, IMP-OM-SOP Veriti 96, IMP-OM-SOP_Bio II Advance, OM FIGE Pipetting, SOP FIGE DNA EXTR PLANT.

The head of the Forest Genetics Lab, Marko Bajc, was also responsible for the two most complex public tenders while purchasing EUFORINNO equipment, and prepared all required IMP, OM and SOP documents.

Marko Bajc, Dr. Marjana Westergren, Tijana Martinović and Domen Finžgar have participated in several secondments and training aiming to further develop the bioinformatics interpretation centre. Marko Bajc and Dr. Marjana Westergren were mainly involved in fragment analysis and interpretation for forest genetic monitoring, based on collaboration with CP ASP, Teisendorf, while Tijana Martinović and Domen Finžgar participated in a number of secondments and training dedicated to NGS of fungi and bacteria at the partners Asp, Teisendorf; Hemholtz, Neuherberg; IBAF-CNR, Rome; ULund; and PLECO, Antwerp.

2.3 C: Belowground complexity and carbon dynamics

Problem: The importance of soil as a major carbon (C) sink is acknowledged as paramount amongst ecosystem services. Soil contains twice as much C (1550 Pg) compared to the atmosphere (780 Pg) and two to three times more than the amount stored in the vegetation biomass (500-650 Pg) (Lal 2008). While inputs and outputs of C in the above-ground part of forest ecosystems can be recorded continuously by measuring the relevant C-containing gases, and extrapolated from micro- and mezzo-scale to the ecosystem and landscape level, the belowground C processes involved, in particular the dynamics of soil C stocks, are neither easy to monitor nor well investigated and understood. A number of processes are neglected in the ecosystem models, in particular the C input through turnover of fine roots and mycelia of root symbionts - mycorrhizal fungi (Godbold et al., 2006, Brunner and Godbold., 2007; Finer et al, 2007, Cudlin et al, 2007; Wallander et al, submitted). Using 13C techniques, mycorrhizal mycelia turnover was shown to be a dominant process for C input into soil C stocks, contributing more than 60% of new soil C (Högberg et al., 1993; Högberg, 2007; Haberer et al., 2007). Additionally, C and nitrogen trade-off between plants and mycorrhizal fungi can be assessed using carbon isotope ratios in combination with 15N/14N isotope ratios aiding quantification of mycorrhizal hyphal turnover and its function. While the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis is the predominant mycorrhizal association among the over-storey trees in boreal and northern temperate forests, arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) become increasingly common further south (Opik et al.,2003; 2008; 2009). Due to the asexual nature of Glomeromycota, which are the fungi forming the AM associations, and problems with defining species, the actual number of species capable of forming AM associations is inexact, although some 200 species are currently recognised (Smith and Read, 2008). Human interventions due to climate change, land-use change, and direct application of heavy forest machinery in forestry operations can contribute to decrease in forest soil macroporosity (>50 µm) up to 50%. Resulting higher water retention and restricted gas exchange led to decline in mychorrizal and bacteria community structures in soils (Frey et al 2009).

Belowground complexity is therefore a major issue to be studied with respect to climate change, disturbance and air pollution effects on forest ecosystems and their sustainable management.

RID target achievement: Development of protocols to quantify C fluxes in the soil, including mycelial and fine root turnover, development of C dynamics models including the complex belowground diversity, development of an automatic soil respiration measurement system and further development of fine root and mycelial turnover analysis devices with permanent temperature and moisture measurement.

- C1. Fine root turnover and modelling: database organisation, data analysis and interpretation and their use in modelling belowground carbon dynamics is an imperative for SFI.
- C2. Mycorrhizal turnover and function: mycorrhiza can give insights in the form of nitrogen taken up, which can provide an insight into the N cycle of plants and its connection to the carbon cycle.
- C3. Innovative forest management tools to predict consequences of disturbance regimes: Modelling the effects that forest operations and disturbance to biodiversity can have on the capacity of soil to store C
- C4. Microbial activity and soil respiration measurements: SFI plans to develop an automatic soil respiration system with chambers at reference plots with measurements of net ecosystem exchange

Collaborative partners involved: PLECO (led by R. Ceulemans), ZALF (led by A. Gessler), ULund (led by H Wallander), UH For (led by HS Helmisaari), IBAF-CNR (led by G. Matteucci)

➢ C1: Innovation in minirhizotron and ingrowth bags measurements of mycelium and fine roots
Two PhD students – later on postdocs – were included in this objective:
Ines Štraus developed the method for mycorrhizal mycelium biomass, turnover and function, using specially designed ingrowth bags in situ (in collaboration with ULund), and rhizotrons in semi-controlled environments; both were specifically designed for the study. Mycelium was further used for stable isotope analysis of C and N isotopes partitioning in the soil-mycelium-root-plant tissues (in collaboration with ZALF).

Isotopic analyses of δ15N and δ13C in the soil-mycelium-root-plant tissues showed the flow of carbon from leaves to the roots (leaves were 13C depleted compared to roots) and the flow of nitrogen from roots to the leaves (roots were 15N enriched compared to leaves). This process is also very complex and dependent on environmental factors. The δ13C analyses provide us with an insight into carbon circulation in the air-plant-fungi-soil system. From δ13C data, we can deduce on the impact of changes in temperature, light intensity, soil moisture and also on the time of the year to which the plants were exposed. All factors are reflected in the isotopic structure of 13C of leaves, which is depleted in favourable conditions because of high photosynthesis, since enriched 13C is transported from leaves to roots and mycorrhizal fungi.

Mycorrhizal fungi consequently grow faster into substrate searching for nutrients that are transported to the host plant in exchange for carbon. δ15N analyses enable an insight into the belowground system. The δ15N values reflect the soil structure and the soil profile and also provide information on ectomycorrhizal fungi and the form of nitrogen uptake from soil. Mycorrhizal fungi transported depleted 15N to the leaves, which as the final recipient in the transport chain are 15N depleted unless other factors such as temperature, precipitation or human activity are present. The PhD dissertation of Ines Štraus included results obtained through secondment at ZALF.

Peter Železnik in collaboration with Mitja Ferlan improved the minirhizotron method (in collaboration with UH For) for analysis of fine root growth and turnover (an EU patent was filed, and a paper published):
o ŽELEZNIK, Peter, VILHAR, Urša, STARR, Mike, DE GROOT, Maarten, KRAIGHER, Hojka. Fine root dynamics in Slovenian beech forests in relation to soil temperature and water availability. Trees, 1-10; ISSN 0931-1890, 2015, doi: 10.1007/s00468-015-1218-z
➢ C2: Developed parameterisation of a soil module in C flux modelling

The soil module in the C flux model ANAFORE (author of the model Gaby Deckmyn, PLECO) was parameterised within the EUFORINNO collaboration and two COST actions on belowground processes: COST FP0803 and FP1305 BIOLINK. For this purpose three modelling training sessions were organised at SFI, and a number of secondments were organised for SFI staff at PLECO. The results were published in several papers, some acknowledging the COST actions, others also the project EUFORINNO, such as:
• DECKMYN, Gabrielle I., MAYER, A., SMITS, M. M., EKBLAD, A., GREBENC, Tine, KOMAROV, Alexander S., KRAIGHER, Hojka. Simulating ectomycorrhizal fungi and their role in carbon and nitrogen cycling in forest ecosystems. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, ISSN 0045-5067, 2014, vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 535-553, ilustr. doi: 10.1139/cjfr-2013-0496

In addition, the fine root - mycorrhizal fungi part of the ANAFORE model was revised. Results of fine root and ectomycorrhizal analyses from SFI were the basis of the model’s refinement. An improved model was prepared and tested during the most recent secondment of Tine Grebenc. Data were made available prior to the secondment by P. Železnik, J. Cortese, G. Deckmyn, and H. Kraigher. Different modelling options were tested: a distinction between ‘uptaking fine roots (FR)’ and ‘transport FR’; distinction between ‘ectomycorhizal (EM) tips’ and ’non-EM tips’; the influence of various EM characteristics: rhizomorphs and extension. The aim was to determine if a relatively small change in analyses of soil core data is useful in improving soil models, and how these data could be implemented in existing models.

Primarily this was organised as a theoretical exercise, focusing in particular on emanating elements of ECM and their influential area and exchange surface in relation to their shape and size, and specific mathematical formulas were set for calculation of the surface and volume of each structure. Finally, we used real data from an old age beech forest in Slovenia to run the model as a showcase with implementation of realistic values for fine root and ECM biomass, surface, volume and density based on data from a managed beech-dominated forest from the Rajhenav area. In addition to this, the influence area and the contact area resembling functional nutrient transfer area between soils and ECM (and roots) were identified in three different ways and will be modelled to compare the effect of different definitions of this contact area and to prove how this can work in a real forest.

➢ C3: Developed soil disturbance model for adaptive forest management

Innovative forest management tools to predict consequences of forest operations and disturbance (e.g. ice storm) for biodiversity and the capacity of soil to store C were developed within the EUFORINNO collaboration and the Life+ project ManFor C.BD.: Managing forests for multiple purposes: carbon, biodiversity and socio-economic wellbeing (LIFE09 ENV/IT/000078). For this purpose several modelling training sessions were organised at SFI, and a number of secondments were organised for SFI staff at IBAF-CNR (led by G. Matteucci, supported by Elena Paoletti and Ettore d’Andrea) and UH For (led by H.S. Helmisaari, supported by M. Starr). The secondments of Peter Železnik and Urša Vilhar to UH For and Primož Simončič, Milan Kobal and Klemen Eler to IBAF-CNR contributed directly to sub-objective C3.

The Yasso07 model (Kobal, Eler, Simončič, Kraigher 2014) describes the decomposition of organic matter in the forest soil by dividing litter inputs into different components with varying decomposition rates. The model was used to assess change of carbon stock for forest soils at the Brdo intensive forest monitoring plot. A temporal change of soil Corg in various scenarios of future climate change (increase in air temperature, change in precipitation) was predicted. The difference between the measured amount Corg in the soil and the amount predicted by the model for the current climate on the Brdo plot was 6.4 t C ha-1 (88.6 t C ha-1 measured vs. 95.0 t C ha-1 predicted). Taking into consideration the climate change scenarios for Slovenia, Corg stock is expected to decrease in the future according to Yasso07 projections in all scenarios of climate change. The estimate of 100-year decrease of Corg is the largest for the scenario in which a large increase of both temperature and precipitation is expected (18.2%) and smallest when a small temperature increase and precipitation decrease are predicted (9.3%). Assuming stable litter input (the forest management approach does not change and in the absence of natural disasters), a larger influence on Corg decrease was predicted for temperature change compared to precipitation change. However, many uncertainties are included in model estimates ranging from litter input estimates, climate change uncertainties, climate-litter production feedbacks, starting value estimates, etc.
The results were published in several papers, some acknowledging the Life+ project ManFor C.BD. others also the EUFORINNO project:
• KOBAL, Milan, ELER, Klemen, SIMONČIČ, Primož, KRAIGHER, Hojka. Assessment of organic matter changes in the soil of the Brdo plot under different climate change scenarios through the Yasso07 model application. Acta Silvae et Ligni, ISSN 2335-3112. 2014, [no.] 103, pp. 21-34
• VILHAR, Urša, ROŽENBERGAR, Dušan, SIMONČIČ, Primož, DIACI, Jurij. Variation in irradiance, soil features and regeneration patterns in experimental forest canopy gaps. Annals of Forest Science, ISSN 1286-4560, 2015, vol. 72, iss. 2, str. 253-266. doi: 10.1007/s13595-014-0424-y.
• VILHAR, Urša. Comparison of drought stress indices in beech forests: a modelling study. iForest (In print)
• VILHAR, Urša, KUTNAR, Lado, URBANČIČ, Mihej, SIMONČIČ, Primož. Microsite conditions as a major factor in the conversion of spruce monocultures on beech sites. Gozdarski vestnik, 74, 2016 (in print)

➢ C4: Innovation in automatic soil respiration devices

With the help of the EUFORINNO project an innovative automatic chamber technique was developed. All known apparatus for capturing a gas flow (gas flux system chambers) have a big body with collar and the body has an electronic system with a closing and opening mechanism; they are usually too bulky for micrometeorological measurements. This kind of construction of the chamber has an impact on the measuring point and consequently also on the temperature and humidity of the measuring point. Our aim was to move the part with the electronic system and the opening and closing mechanism as far as possible from the measuring point in order to minimise the impact on it. The total height of the newly designed chamber is 100 cm and the lower part of the moving chamber is around 70 cm above the measuring point. The second aim was to construct an apparatus that could also capture gas flow on very heterogeneous surfaces; an improvement was made to minimise the chamber diameter. The chamber diameter is 9 cm, which allows us to install it on a stony and rocky surface. On the basis of the Slovenian patent SI 23967, the EUFORINNO project helped to prepare the European patent application Apparatus for capturing a gas flow (EP12172542.8). In the frame of EUFORINNO secondments at PLECO we did some elaboration of raw data collected with new chambers, and some testing was done together with groups from CNR visiting SFI.

2.4 D: Net Ecosystem Carbon Exchange in time and space

Problem: The application of isotopic science to forestry has been hampered by technical limitations making sampling slow, tedious and expensive, thus limiting our ability to advance in understanding ecosystem processes. High-frequency approaches, enabling higher throughput sampling at a fraction of the cost of traditional mass spectrometry, are now available to allow rapid measurements of the isotopic composition of stocks and fluxes, such as CO2, H2O, N2O and CH4. They provide novel understanding of the function of plants and ecosystems, the carbon and water cycles, and the interactions of climate and the biosphere. In addition these measurements can be used in a forensic manner to assess sources of anthropogenic contributions to atmospheric greenhouse gases. Isotopic measurements are significantly enhanced by additional measurements allowing insight into the cause and effect of observed isotopic patterns (Bowling et al., 2005; Barbour et al., 2007a,b; McDowell et al., 2008). In a forest setting, these measurements include continuous observations of ecosystem and soil carbon and water exchange, standard leaf, soil, and whole-tree level gas exchange measurements, observations of seasonal leaf phenology, and infrequent measurements of the stable isotope pools. Additionally, by using stable isotopes in wood it may be possible to exploit the advantages of tree ring chronologies whilst avoiding some of the problems associated with tree-ring widths or densities. A suitable way to monitor isotopes is application of super-sites.

Full-waveform LiDAR acquired accurate measurements of canopy height, vertical structure of vegetation and the aboveground biomass at a landscape and ecosystem level are essential for an overall understanding of the carbon cycles over terrestrial ecosystems in time, contributing to understanding and calculation of Net Ecosystem Carbon Exchange (Griffis et al., 2004).

RID target achievement: Development of a laboratory for stable isotopes analysis including laser-based in situ methodologies for forestry development of NCEE models, upgrading of a standardised LiDAR method for acquiring data relevant for forestry.
• D1. Super sites with trace gas isotopes monitoring: recruited senior scientist - Nate McDowell
• D2. Remote sensing
• D3. Stable isotopes in wood, fungi and soils: develop a fully established laboratory for analysis of stable isotopes of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen in plants, fungi and soils, and tree-ring widths or densities: recruited a specialised postdoc to run stable isotopes analyses

The collaborative partner involved: SWANSEA (D. McCaroll), IBAF-CNR (G. Matteucci), ZALF (A. Gessler), PLECO (R. Ceulemans), ULund (H. Wallander), Nate McDowell (senior scientist from Los Alamos, and a specialised postdoc to run IRMS to be employed).

➢ D1: Trace gas stable isotopes monitoring standardised
Carbon dioxide and stable isotopes of carbon dioxide are interesting in environmental research. They are widely used to investigate both natural and anthropogenic carbon sources in the atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere, as well as the exchanges between these reservoirs. Analysis of stable carbon and oxygen isotopes, which is based on laser technology, represents a new approach as it provides continuous measurement at high temporal resolution and looks to be a promising alternative to older technologies, among them the best known isotope ratio mass spectrometry techniques.
Based on our scientific research programme and discussions within the EUFORINNO AB board and the recruit Nate McDowell’s advice, we purchased the Carbon Isotopic Analyzer (TGSIA) from Los Gatos Research (LGR) at the end of year 2013. The instrument outputs concentrations of all CO2 isotopes in ppm and also its isotopic ratios in real time. The main unit for performing accurate and reliable measurements is a mid infrared quantum cascade laser. All LGR analysers utilise a unique laser absorption technology called Off-Axis Integrated Cavity Output Spectroscopy (OA-ICOS). This LGR-patented technique offers better and faster performance compared to Laser Absorption Spectroscopy (LAS) or cavity ringdown spectroscopy (CRDS). Because instruments capable of measuring the whole isotopological picture of CO2 are not produced widely, and the instrument needed to be returned in January 2014 due to malfunctioning between calibration process, Los Gatos Research organised a training session for SFI to present the measurement principle and equipment itself. Training was organised in February 2014 (secondment/training). During this training at the producer it was realised that SFI wanted to use the analyser not only in the laboratory but also in the field without any other laboratory capabilities and also without a powerline. Therefore LGR needed to adapt the analyser for such needs; they precisely constructed a special unit for zero air and dry air according to our joint designs. They also needed to remove the internal and add an external, more powerful pump, and they needed to do some more work on analyser laser cell isolation.

Because of this adaptation LGR organised another training session for us in August 2014. In the meantime, between February and August, our own multiplexing and data-logging system was constructed in the Laboratory for Electronic Devices at the Slovenian Forestry Institute. Our patented chambers for soil respiration measurements were adapted for use with the isotope analyser. There was a lot of discussion about using a CO2 isotopic analyser in different ecological applications during secondments and training in the frame of the EUFORINNO project (Secondment PLECO: Ferlan Mitja, 5 days (12/10/2015-16/10/2015). We also attended to a large 13C-pulse-labelling campaign performed on 46 plots of the large biodiversity experiment in Jena – The Jenna Experiment (Secondment ZALF: Ferlan Mitja, 14 days (03/05/2015-16/05/2015 )). The SOP for use of TGIAS was prepared (SOP LGE LAB 01).

Besides advice in deciding on TGSIA, the outputs of the recruitment of the senior scientist Nate MacDowell were related to mortality in forest ecosystems. The majority of his work was devoted to research and publishing activities in the in the field of mortality in forest ecosystems. His important scientific contribution was also in adapting the experiment of Ines Štraus, PhD student, in her drought effect-related experiment on beech, after her PhD Thesis studies were finalised. Nate McDowell also prepared an invited lecture for the final EUFORINNO conference EUFORIA.

➢ D2: A LIDAR application standardised over an appropriate test area
This output was not implemented. The reason was not the lack of equipment but the departure of the research specialist proposing the application from SFI, after starting its standardisation at SFI. His relevant references include:
• KOBAL, Milan, BERTONCELJ, Irena, PIROTTI, Francesco, DAKSKOBLER, Igor, KUTNAR, Lado. Using lidar data to analyse sinkhole characteristics relevant for understory vegetation under forest cover-case study of a high karst area in the Dinaric mountains. PloS one, ISSN 1932-6203, 2015, vol. 10, no. 3.
• KOBAL, Milan, TRIPLAT, Matevž, KRAJNC, Nike. Airborne laser scanning in forestry: a review. Gozdarski vestnik, ISSN 0017-2723, 2014, vol. 72, no. 5/6, pp. 235-248
• KOBAL, Milan. Growing stock estimation based on airborne laser scanning data. Gozdarski vestnik, ISSN 0017-2723, 2014, vol. 72, no. 5/6, pp. 249-262
• KOBAL, Milan. On the use of airborne laser scanning for the detection of sinkholes in the forest landscape and thair impact on the diversity of the understory vegetation and forest structure. In: KRAIGHER, Hojka (ed.), HUMAR, Miha (ed.). Monitoring v gozdarstvu, lesarstvu in papirništvu: zbornik prispevkov znanstvenega srečanja Gozd in les, [Ljubljana, 19 May 2015], (Studia Forestalia Slovenica, ISSN 0353-6025, 142). Ljubljana: Gozdarski inštitut Slovenije, Založba Silva Slovenica: = Slovenian Forestry Institute, The Silva Slovenica Publishing Centre, 2015, pp. 18-23

➢ D3: Fully established laboratory for stable isotopes analysis

The Stable Isotope Laboratory at SFI is a fully functional laboratory that provides high-quality stable isotope ratio measurements of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur for a variety of sample types, specialising in wood, plant, moss, fungi and soil substrates offering services to the research and commercial community, based on the recruitment of Dr. Saša Zavadlav, a specialised postdoc on stable isotope techniques.

During the EUFORINNO project and visits to partner institutions (ZALF and Swansea University), Saša co-authored a review paper in the journal Phytochemistry on the influence of biosynthetic processes on carbon allocation of plant lipids, demonstrating how stable isotopes can be useful in studies of plant metabolism. Two more papers are yet to be published. One (submitted to Plant Biology) discusses the interplay of drought and inter-specific competition affecting carbon assimilation and transportation in a maple-beech stand, while the second paper (currently in preparation) discusses the relationship between carbon and oxygen stable isotope ratios in tree rings of Slovenian oaks growing in lowland areas. She also prepared several Standard Operating Procedures and attended training seminars, international workshops and conferences.

The laboratory’s high-quality analytical and sample preparation equipment along with Saša’s expertise in stable isotope analytical techniques (regarding sample treatment procedures and operational skills of the TC/EA-IRMS analysing system) and experience in experimental applications of stable isotopes as tracers of environmental processes/changes make the Stable Isotope Laboratory an important part of SFI’s reputation as a reliable and successful research institution. Moreover, SFI gained greater recognition as a research and service-oriented facility that will help improve SFI’s successfulness when applying for new project funding. More importantly, by providing highly qualified research assistance to the interested community, SFI will contribute importantly to forest-based scientific excellence worldwide.

3. Three horizontal objectives – activities and their outputs

3.1 Publishing

Problem: Different departments of the SFI are differently skilled in scientific writing, since each specialises in research, professional work for tasks within the civil forest service, advisory services for policy makers, or other areas. There was a need to introduce young scientists in particular from different backgrounds and departments of SFI to the steps needed for preparation of an acceptable and possibly highlighted scientific paper in internationally refereed journals with high impact. Furthermore, the publishing centre of the SFI had not been advancing much since its establishment at the time of SFI’s establishment in 1947. The following tasks were addressed:
• the need to provide open access to different published and grey-literature materials of SFI; this would provide better presentation and visibility of SFI as a whole, and provide the means for meeting EU requirements for public access to outputs of projects funded by public funds
• the need to support the main scientific journal Zbornik gozdarstva in lesarstva – Research Reports (renamed Acta Silvae et Ligni) to be included in the WoS and SCOPUS schemes for referencing its impact
• the need to support the main monograph series Studia Forestalia Slovenica to become an internationally recognised series
• the need to boost the publishing centre Silva Slovenica, and better organise its services for SFI and other possible authors

Objective: Reinforcing publishing and scientific writing skills (PLECO) and internationalisation of Silva Slovenica

• The fully operational open access repository ScieVie is open for every interested institution; by January 2016 it included over 1200 publications which were downloaded more than 20,000 times.
• Acta Silvae et Ligni has been redesigned, with online submission organised, and it has been submitted to Thomson Reuters and Scopus.
• Studia Forestalia Slovenica has increased the number of publications, including the production of a high quality photo monograph promoting Slovenian forests and forestry, an Atlas of Woody Plant Roots, and monographs by highly recognised foreign authors, such as the one on Quercus petraea and Q. robur genetics by the Swedish doyen of forest genetics Prof. Gösta Eriksson.
• Silva Slovenica has been further organised with the help of a postdoc who has been employed as the technical editor, and promoted in the new IUFRO group on scientific publishing centres.
• Numerous participants benefitted from three training seminars on scientific writing and publishing, reflected in an increased number of scientific papers published, and their better distribution among SFI departments.

An increase of scientific excellence is best reflected in the increase of research papers published in the journals with the highest IF in the field of forestry (the top 5%), monographs, and chapters in monographs, as well as invited lectures, new lecture courses for students, mentorships, visits of foreign visitors to SFI, and the increased impacts, such as the number of citations, acceptance of new projects, and publishing in the highest ranking journals.

3.2 Innovation and IP management

Problems: The possibilities for patenting are often neglected or unobserved at SFI. Furthermore, IPR needs an open discussion and promotion, different outputs and their parts leading to IPR regulation need to be identified, and a problematical delineation exists between the need for patenting and the requirements for open access to results of publicly funded research.

Objective: Optimally combine existing methodologies to produce patentable/exploitable innovative outputs, define the delineation between patenting and open access to research results, and provide counselling and an open discussion with regard to the co-ownership of idea, invention, innovation, and any kind of research output.

• An outstanding person as the IP and innovation officer, Acad. Prof. Dr. Ivan Kreft, was recruited, who not only prepared an overview of SFI activities, needs and opportunities, but also provided counseling in a number of problems occurring among research teams and departments.
• Strategic innovation and IP management planning was prepared, internal regulation was accepted through the institute’s formal boards, and it was implemented through the organisation of an IPR and IPM office at SFI.
• Training on patenting and its promotion and information on the needs and means for patenting were provided, and a number of patents and registered trademarks were prepared or filed.

3.3 Networking

Problem: Scientific excellence of SFI needs to be boosted in the region and on a broader EU and global scale.

Objective: To support improved recognition of SFI as a regional centre of excellence in forest research and innovation and forestry professional advisory services

• Participation at conferences with active presentations of scientific outputs, or presenting EUFORINNO and SFI at conferences, workshops, international programme meetings (EUFORGEN Steering Committee, SCIENCE EUROPE LEGS committee meetings and SE workshops), COST actions, SBRA events, presentations for the ministries and agencies, etc.; co-organisation of a number of events, workshops and conferences, among them three conferences at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts; organisation of public-relations field visits to forest research plots, the institute’s research infrastructure; promotion at the open science days and the night of researchers, and at the presentation of the outstanding yearly research results of Slovenian science in the field of biotechnical sciences; publication of a number of promotional articles on EUFORINNO, SFI and implementation projects, such as LIFEGENMON
• Organisation of four scientific conferences, three of them as single day conferences aimed at promoting the scientific results of young and early stage researchers in forestry, wood science and paper, and the final project conference EUFORIA – European forest research and innovation area, with over 130 participants, 19 keynote speakers, 20 volunteer oral presentations and over 50 posters, organised in 5 sessions; including a round table on the field of forest research and its development in Europe with participation of renowned international scientists in forestry, the European Forestry Institute, Slovenian ministries, and the president of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
• Regional networking in SEE through organisation of three meetings for national contact points (NCP), and 6 regional workshops for over 10 countries, aiming to define common research priorities and form teams combining efforts to prepare common research project proposals to different calls in EU
• Intercontinental networking to multiply exploitation opportunities on a global scale; among these:
o a mixed regional-Euro-Asian workshop in Turkey on soil studies and isotope application at the congress “The soil and soul of civilisation”;
o a EUFORINNO workshop on belowground complexity at the International Woody Roots Conference in Nagoya, Japan;
o a EUFORINNO session at the XVI World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, aimed at promotion of EUFORINNO monitoring schemes, and the development of the forest genetic monitoring system (LIFEGENMON) to a wide audience, especially to forestry policy makers on a global scale; and
o a EUFORINNO workshop on climate change effects on forest biodiversity and carbon dynamics in time and space in Thimphu, Bhutan, concentrated on identification of common goals for long-term future collaboration in forest science and forest inventories and monitoring.

4. Strategies for using and disseminating outputs

4.1 Research infrastructure and scientific excellence
Through EUFORINNO the scientific excellence of SFI has been greatly increased, and the research infrastructure has reached the level of the best equipped forestry laboratories not only in the region, but worldwide. As an example, the Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN), which was presented at the XVI WFC in Durban, combines efforts from a number of institutions worldwide, establishing a wood anatomy library, molecular tools for identification of wood source, and isotope labs. SFI combines all these approaches for identification of illegal timber tracking:
• The Wood Anatomy Library was established as early as in 1974 by one of the SFI directors, Prof. Dr. Nikolaj Torelli, who was an expert for FAO on identification and characterisation of woods from Mexico and Central Africa; the knowledge, the library and the capacities are maintained by his successors at the SFI Wood Anatomy and Microscopy Labs, collaborating closely with the Wood Science Department of the Biotechnical Faculty.
• The molecular identification of the source of Central European and SE European woods has been made available through building up of the DNA library and molecular databases within the Slovenian Forest Gene Bank and the molecular databases.
• The TC/EA-IRMS lab is specialised especially for studying stable isotopes in wood, as well as in other tissues of plant, fungal and animal origin; with respect to identification of the source of the timber the important isotope is O, which was made operational towards the end of the project.

Currently SFI has started analysing the possibilities to be nominated as the reference centre for laboratory identification of the source of timber according to the decree EU 995/2010 on illegal timber trading in Europe.

These activities would combine efforts and capacities of three newly established or upgraded laboratories within SFI, and provide them with long-term financing. Since all equipment has already implemented IM and OM, and several have implemented SOPs that are at the level of accreditation, direct orders can be fulfilled immediately.

Other activities are currently based on ongoing financing through the research programme, the tasks of the civil forest service, national and international projects. The annual operational costs, including costs for regular maintenance and consumables, for all 18 pieces of equipment purchased through EUFORINNO, were estimated to be €26,587.75 per year. These costs can easily be covered through the long-term SFI Infrastructure Programme and the Research Programme Forest Biology, Ecology and Technology. For every specific use the additional operational costs will be calculated in the projects requiring this equipment.

Several projects were already accepted at the time of EUFORINNO:
• A LIFE+ project LIFEGENMON (2014-2020) will utilise the Forest Genetics Lab and further upgrade the Slovenian Forest Gene Bank – DNA library and molecular databases, and all know-how related to forest genetics, conservation and monitoring of forest genetic resources.
• A Norwegian fund project GOFORMURA has been accepted (2015-2017), and it further builds up, among others, part of the Slovenian Forest Gene Bank - the ex situ collection of clones of poplars and willows, and identifies research and professional needs and opportunities in the NE sub-Pannonian region.
• The ongoing national research and target developmental projects utilising and supporting new research infrastructure comprise:
o use of paleoclimatic data for predicting drought events in the Balkans (J4-5519; 2013-2016);
o wood preservation and wood decay fungi (L4-5517, 2013-2016);
o response of plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi to soil hypoxia (J4-5526; 2013-2016);
o forest reproductive material and extreme large-scale natural disasters (V4-1438, 2014-2017); and
o rational use of beech wood (V4-1419, 2014-2017).
• Also, several new national research projects have been accepted in the last call for proposals:
o a national postdoc project was accepted on studies of wood anatomy of beech and spruce (Z4-7318, 2016-2017);
o a national applied project was accepted on studies of oaks in extreme climate events, including wood anatomical and eco-physiological studies (J4-7203, 2016-2018);
o the role of mycoremediation of heavy metal polluted soils (J4-7052, 2016-2018); and
o two further projects, already accepted but waiting for a new regulation on collaboration of industries in research proposals to be accepted by two responsible ministries.

All these projects not only contribute to support and rational utilisation of the research infrastructure, but also to scientific publishing of the project teams, and collaboration with other institutions in Slovenia and abroad supports the number of scientists working in and for Slovenian forests and forestry programme and broadens the fields of research that SFI scientists can adequately address. Furthermore, SFI capacities are becoming of more and more interest to visiting students and scientists, thus increasing the use and outputs of the research infrastructure and the whole research programme.

Among the most promising future national project schemes is the Slovenian Strategy of Smart Specialisation, in which SFI has been invited into two strategic research consortia, hoping that both will combine efforts by the time of final calls. Several projects were prepared for the calls ending in April 2016.

Furthermore, a new call for target developmental projects has been initiated, currently selecting the target topics of interest for the co-financing ministries. Also, SFI is following the strategic participation in the process on possible modifications of the Forestry Act.

4.2 SFI visibility and networking

Through the very positive collaboration with EUFORINNO collaborative partners, national contact points, participation at and organisation of conferences, regional and intercontinental workshops, COST actions, EUFORGEN, SBRA events, etc., and general promotion of SFI capacities, the number of common research proposals has increased, and several projects are planned to be proposed in the calls in 2016 and 2017.

Among others some projects have been proposed, and are about to be resubmitted to common calls with the Flemish and the Austrian research funding agencies; SFI researchers have been invited to several project proposals of different schemes (Interreg, Horizon 2020, Alpine Space, Erasmus+), and have proposed several new INTERREG and LIFE+ projects.

The collaboration with NCPs has also led to establishment of future project consortia, and three possible INTERREG calls for proposals and one common H2020 project proposal have been identified, with the probable red lines, coordinating persons and working packages to address the requirements of the calls.

The aforementioned LIFE+ LIFEGENMON project includes a substantial communications and dissemination work package, which allows the Slovenian Forestry Institute the continuation of extensive professional dissemination activities of its scientific and other outputs to general and targeted (scientific and professional) audiences through a wide spectre of communication channels. An excellent core of staff with dissemination skills and capabilities was developed at SFI during the duration of the EUFORINNO project – opportunities for dissemination activities and new proposals for dissemination projects are being continuously identified and executed.

Furthermore, networking through EUFORGEN, specifically, has proved to be an important way of supporting the paths for post-EUFORINNO and after-LIFE communication plans, contributing directly to the new European forestry strategy and the Forest Europe process.

4.3 Scientific publishing and the Silva Slovenica publishing centre

All tasks within the Silva Slovenica publishing centre were achieved; of particular importance for the visibility of SFI and its researchers are the organisation of the open access repository SciVie and establishment of operational technical support for the publishing centre. The journal Acta Silvae et Ligni is under evaluation, and the monographs series Studia Forestalia Slovenica has become recognised within international forestry publishers. All procedures leading to the final result, the publication of a well-designed, peer-reviewed, language-edited and proof-corrected publication, have been defined, checked, and the highest standards made routine.

After publishing the Slovenian-English photo monograph VIRGIN FOREST, the number of requests for publishing in Silva Slovenica has increased considerably. The final two publications of highest quality are the monograph by Prof. Gösta Eriksson from Sweden on the genetics of oaks, and the Atlas of Woody Plant Roots by Tanja Mrak and Jožica Gričar. The technical editor has completed a number of educational courses, formed a network of designers, native language speakers, and end-publishers, and his long-term organisation of the publishing centre has received favourable support.

However, additional SFI scientific strategic support will be needed to define a number of publications that each project and/or public forest service task should publish within Silva Slovenica, and define the share of funds from them to support its maintenance. Active engagement in the IUFRO session on scientific publishers will also support further visibility of the centre and an important part of the networking needed to broaden the number of authors choosing its services and thus supporting its long-term operationality.

4.4 Intellectual property rights and innovation management

An overview of the existing situation and the fields producing cases to be included into an IP management strategy and training on patenting was organised, the draft IP strategy and an SFI Regulation for protection of IP were prepared, the office for IPR was established, serving also as a confidentiality service for possible disputes on co-authorships, and a general discussion as part of dissemination activities within SFI was initiated and has been well established. These activities and their outputs form a solid basis for future IP management at SFI. The office has supported several cases in evaluating the requests and in preparing patent applications, and in registering trademarks.

The IPM strategy is an active process, developing with needs, research and professional fields and services the SFI staff provides and encompasses, and therefore it will evolve with time. The main basis for an active and open discussion was established, and the IPM office will remain operational over the long term at SFI.

4.5 Project management

During the EUFORINNO project a few administrative and financial managers were employed, with some leaving for maternity leave and others finalising their PhD thesis, and there was a constant overload of duties for both, especially for the financial manager, as well as for the human resources manager of SFI who was also responsible for all formalities regarding public tenders (for purchase of equipment) and for employment. In the second half of the project the current management team was formed, and given its outstanding functioning as a team it will continue in future projects.

During the project the management team pursued all relevant educational training and connected with other management teams at SFI, so that by the end of 2015 the so-called ‘PROJECT INCUBATOR’ was formed at the Project Management Office. It provides data mining regarding calls for projects, presenting the requirements for these calls, and providing support in preparation of project proposals. It has also established operational procedures for communication with the corresponding and responsible offices at relevant EC DG headquarters.

Furthermore, it provided brainstorming events for NCPs, during which several project opportunities were identified, discussed and agreed upon, as well as presentations for SFI as a whole on specific calls. All relevant information has been stored and has been continuously updated on the central SFI intranet.

The well-established support team and the project management office with its activities regarding searching for funding opportunities also provide good support for all future project proposals and an increase in their success rate.

Potential Impact:
1. Socio economic impact

The EUFORINNO project considerably aided SFI’s path towards becoming a centre of excellence in the SE Europe. Project activities ensured wide recognition of the expertise and services of SFI staff. Numerous events, training seminars, and conferences attended served as an excellent promoter of individuals and created important alliances that will be utilised and nurtured in the future.

During the project several new staff members were hired, in addition to the initially planned recruits. The project office was established and employed two (three during the project) new project and financial managers. Several professional training seminars were attended by managers, thereby also ensuring SFI’s technical capability in coordinating important projects in the future. A new project has been acquired by the EUFORINNO team (Lead beneficiary in collaboration with the Collaborative partners and EUFORINNO National Contact Points), titled LIFEGENMON, which made possible extending the employment of the recruits as well as of several forestry researchers and professionals. Additional employment has occurred in the field of dissemination, PR and advocacy expertise. Several new project applications have been submitted, and the impacts of EUFORINNO will thus also be visible in the future. All these activities contributed to, and continue to contribute to, job growth in Slovenia’s forestry research and professional field.

2. Wider societal implications

SFI has prepared 8 project newsletters (4-6 pages each); the last NL provides in-depth presentation of all EUFORINNO achievements, from new services and capabilities of SFI (due to the EUFORINNO project) to information on standard operating procedures in SFI laboratories.

Newsletters are freely available to any subscriber, as well as on the website as PDF files and are mailed to the project’s target groups and key actors. The NLs are also handed out to participants at different meetings and conferences. NLs are recognised to be a very useful means of addressing potential end-users.

Events organised and involvement of bigger groups of stakeholders:

National and European dissemination and networking

A selection of events organised or attended with the aim of promoting EUFORINNO and the visibility of SFI is presented in the attachment 2. During the project a close collaboration in organization of scientific and public dissemination events was established with the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts with whom two special conferences were organized on the future of science and innovation in forestry and wood science and industry, a conference on methodologies of environmental impact assessment, a visit to the SFI research plot in Rajhenavski Rog virgin forest, and publication of several monographs, starting with the photo-monograph The Virgin Forest.l

National Contact Points (NCP):

Establishing the network of national contact points (NCP) was crucial for subsequent activities within the project and for future cooperation. For that reason we organised the first NCP meeting close to the very beginning of the project. Our main targets were Central and SE European countries (Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey) and some selected Mediterranean countries, such as Portugal. The workshop was organised by SFI in Slovenia for selected NCPs in December 2013. The main goal of the workshop was to gather NCPs and to discuss organisation of conferences and workshops in their countries.

The second NCP meeting was organised at the time of the final EUFORINNO scientific conference EUFORIA in September on Rogla. The EUFORINNO impacts were discussed with the view toward possible future collaboration, and a preliminary list of project calls and their requirements presented.

At the end of the project (January 2016) we organised the final NCP meeting. The main goal of this meeting was to start with the post-EUFORINNO activities, mainly the preparation of common project proposals and submission of applications to EU project calls, such as H2020, and Interreg MED, DANUBE, and ADRION project schemes, define the scopes, participants, possible working groups and proposal coordinating persons and other responsible persons.

Regional opportunity raising

We have organised 10(11) workshops in different countries of SE Europe, which were organised as regional workshops with target participants from several countries in a region. The lecturers were mostly from SFI and collaborative partners, or NCPs. Altogether we organised 5 combined regional workshops with a duration between 1 and 4 days. For details see Attachment 1: Table

Intercontinental opportunity raising

The intercontinental opportunity raising proved to be extremely effective, since it resulted in many opportunities for future international collaboration.

In September 2014 we organised the EUFORINNO workshop session on “Mycorrhizosphere complexity” in Nagoya, Japan, within the “6th International Symposium on Physiological Processes in Roots of Woody Plants”. Around 80-90 participants attended from around the world. Lecturers were from Slovenia, collaborative partners from Finland (UH Forestry) and Belgium (PLECO), and from Austria (an additional invited speaker – chair of the IUFRO section on woody roots).

In September 2015 we organised a EUFORINNO workshop session on “European forest research and innovation - supporting and monitoring resilience of forests to climate change” during the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa. The lecturers were from Slovenia, Italy (IBAF-CNR) and Belgium (PLECO), and approximately 30 participants from all over the world participated in the workshop. Furthermore, the project and its implementation were presented on regional broadcasting radio, reaching about 500,000 listeners.

Between 12th and 22nd of December 20015 we organised the 3rd EUFORINNO workshop in Bhutan entitled “Forest biodiversity and carbon dynamics in time and space”. 14 representatives from Slovenia (SFI and one from the ministry responsible for forestry) and Belgium (PLECO) were lecturers at the event, together with several lecturers from Bhutan research institutes and the forestry department of their ministry for agriculture and the parks. The workshop was also attended by a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Mr. Janez Zafran, and by a representative of the Slovenian Embassy in India (also responsible for Bhutan), Mrs. Maja Šegota. In 7 working days we presented different aspects of our research with the main focus on forestry, monitoring of forest ecosystems, forest legislation, protection of biodiversity, climate reconstruction and forest growth on a macro and micro level. We had several meetings with Bhutanese foresters and members of the ministries (including the minister responsible for agriculture). We also visited the forest research institute and a botany garden in Bhutan. In the post-EUFORINNO period we will enhance the contacts established by applying for joint projects. We expect the next visit from Bhutan at our institute in June 2016.

Involvement of Stakeholders outside WP 3

Research Community

Additional dissemination activities have been carried out within Task 2.4. through organisation of scientific international and national conferences and through Work Packages 2 and 4. Within Work Package 2, Task 2.3. Training from collaborative partners within SFI with the aim to inject extra knowledge in SFI and to facilitate the durable adoption of new methodologies and protocols was opened to participants outside SFI after discussions with the project officer. This resulted in many informal connections for SFI staff and increased the visibility and relevance of SFI in the wider Slovenian research community. Below we present the impressions from one of the training seminars by external participants (Scientific writing and publishing, held by Reinhrat Ceulemans, Pokljuka 2014).

Željko Zgrablić, Croatian Forest Research Institute:
‘’Courses like this should be obligatory for authors of scientific papers. The best workshop in my 5-year career in science!’’

Yasmin Pinuela Samaniego, Slovenian Forestry Institute:
‘’A lot of information which you should get before you start writing anything!’’

Urša Kanjir, Scientific Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies):
‘’Enjoyable workshop! Highly professional! Very good environment for generating new ideas!’’

Lucija Lapuh, Scientific Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Anton Melik Geographical Institute):
‘’Very interesting and useful training, with many details on the structure of a paper. Thank you!’’

The SFI’s scientific staff impressions (based on evaluation questionnaires):

‘’The EUFORINNO project increased the impact and visibility of SFI at the regional and the national level.’’

‘’The EUFORINNO project helped me become aware of the institutional IP management policies and resources.’’

‘’The EUFORINNO project helped develop opportunities for my career development at SFI.’’

‘’The EUFORINNO project will result in long-term collaborations with research groups from EU institutions.’’

‘’With the new infrastructure at SFI it will be easier to attract foreign scientists or students.’’

‘’At this stage of the EUFORINNO project I am better informed about the different funding opportunities / calls for proposals.’’


Representatives of industry were invited to participate in the EUFORINNO project as members of the Advisory Board. Representatives from the following companies have supported EUFORINNO by being members of the AB:
• Mr. Dušan Gradišar, Director of the forestry enterprise GOZD Ljubljana d.d.
• Mr. Gregor Benčina, Director of the wood processing company Jelovica d.d.

Several industry and forest management planning professionals representatives have participated at EUFORIA – EUFORINNO final Conference.
• Omorika d.o.o. – Forest Nursery
• Omega d.o.o. – Research equipment
• Slovenia Forest Service

Policy makers

Representatives of policymakers were invited to participate in the EUFORINNO project as members of the Advisory Board. The following representatives from ministries were included: Dr. Franci Demšar, replaced in 2016 by Dr. József Györkös, Director of the Slovenian Research Agency, and Mrs. Ani Zavrl Bogataj, replaced later on by Mr. Robert Režonja, Director of the Directorate for Forestry, Hunting and Fisheries RS; SFI Steering Committee

EUFORINNO project progress was presented to the SFI Steering Committee during each meeting.

External members of the Steering Committee included representatives of the users of SFI results (Slovenia Forest Service and Ministry of Economic Development and Technology) and representative from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food.

The stakeholders’ impressions and recommendations (based on evaluation questionnaires):

‘’Remark for the funding agency: It would have been nice if this grant were followed by a small structural grant to attract good scientists to SFI in the following years and make optimal use of the investments."

‘’Advertise and open the infrastructure to researchers, PhD students and post-doc for high quality work and research, using also reasonable access costs. Enter INFRAIA and ESFRI proposal as a flagship integrated laboratory for forest research’’

‘’Due to the EUFORINNO project the Slovenian Forestry Institute has the best forestry laboratories in Southeast Europe enabling future scientific excellence in this field.

"The experiences on this Project should be extended to other regions. Researchers should definitely collaborate with this institution!"

‘’EUFORINNO has been a productive and efficient project that contributed to scientific excellence and dissemination of achievements and outputs to the scientific and young researcher's communities.’’

Long-term funding is needed
In my opinion the project is successfully completed, but its effects will be felt for a long time.
"1) Important that the existing and new collaborations can be continued in order to better benefit, e.g. by joint publications, joint workshops, joint project proposals.
2) More publications need to be published by EUFORINNO and SFI co-workers on the outcome of the project.
3) I am very satisfied about the coordination, the collaboration and the enthusiasm of the EUFORINNO scientists and leader(s)."

"I like EUFORINNO project very much! It is good example of good project in the field of forestry in this region: the project offered SUPPORT and promoted RESEARCH and was INNOVATIVE!

‘’The EUFORINNO project did the great contribution to understand further detailed forest ecosystems, in particular belowground diversity. Many new collaborations have been established during this period.’’

‘’The project was very well organised and handled. The new established lab infrastructure has to be intensely utilised for applied research and continuously adapted to new scientific developments.’’

List of Websites:
The address of the project public website