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A new European technology for cost efficient and environmental friendly production of pre-cultivated forest regeneration materials

Final Report Summary - PRE-FOREST (A new European technology for cost efficient and environmental friendly production of pre-cultivated forest regeneration materials)

In the last decade considerable changes have occurred in tree forest nursery techniques (from seed handling and processing to planting stock storage) and in forest restoration operations. Main drivers of change are represented by the implementation of sustainable forestry with focus on biodiversity, landscape and climate change, the need to reduce resources such as fertilisers, pesticides, peat, water, energy imputed during plant production. This is because of environmental as well as economic reasons.

Contemporary forest restoration is a complex task, as it assumes different forms according to diverse ecological, sociopolitical and historic contexts. Wild and urban foresters have to face particular challenge to harsh growing conditions, diseases, and insects. Forest restoration is under way in order to counteract the negative effects of human activities and it is asked to maintain or enhance bio-diversity, mitigate climate change, repair ecosystem functions. Thus, appropriate silvicultural operations can be designed for any forest restoration objective. Yet, forest restoration requires creativity, flexibility in applying silvicultural tools. Also a pragmatic approach is needed, as costs of restoration and scale of degradation are constraints.

Technical innovation and forethought are needed to adapt forest nursery management and forest restoration to this context. Collaboration between forest research and business on a national and transnational level is needed to build up or enhance the research capacity of enterprises, to generate new knowledge, to transfer technology, to access to venture capital or business and innovation support services, to engage in commercial activities.

The project addresses the crucial environmental questions discussed in Europe and the rest of the world today, namely how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and subsequent problems with global warming, how to lower the oil consumption and the possibility to expand the production of biomass for energy as a substitution for fossil fuels and how to reduce the use of chemicals and pesticides negatively affecting water and soil quality.

The new technology developed within the project set a new standard both in and outside Europe compared to state of the art regarding the possibility of a major increase in the volumes of high-quality forest regeneration materials produced in a cost efficient and environmental friendly way.

The project results also make an important contribution to improve sustainable management in the production of forest crops. This includes the important issue to cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing, for example, future needs for heated greenhouse facilities in forest nurseries all over Europe, as well as by limiting the use of other energy inputs and providing forest reproductive material to establish new planting for bioenergy.