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Smart information, governance and business innovations for sustainable supply and payment mechanisms for forest ecosystem services

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - InnoForESt (Smart information, governance and business innovations for sustainable supply and payment mechanisms for forest ecosystem services)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-12-31

Ensuring and promoting the provision of a wide range of FES requires new approaches in forest policy, business, and management that govern these. This is where the InnoForESt project comes in as a multi-actor-based approach to analyse and promote promising governance innovations for sustainable FES provision and to showcase their potentials. The guiding objectives of this Innovation Action are to synthesise information on forest ecosystem service provision in FES in Europe; to understand enabling and hindering factors that are influencing governance innovation development; to assess opportunities and challenges for their upscaling and transfer to other application context; and to provide policy and business recommendations to policy makers and practitioners for the benefit of sustainable FES provision.
Six examples of governance innovations for FES provision form the focus of the innovation action. Representing different forest ecosystem types from northern to southern Europe, half of them include payment schemes and business approaches for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation and the other half covers innovative networks and actor constellations for integrated management for the provision of FES bundles. InnoForESt designed tools and methodologies that support innovation development and network creation. Rooted in ideas of the multi-actor approach, a series of constructive innovation assessment workshops (CINA) and corresponding analysis have been conducted for innovation visioning, assessment and road mapping.

Central findings of the project indicate that governance innovations need to be closely adapted to the context conditions in which they operate. Especially the integration of key stakeholders is of crucial importance for their sound development and regional acceptance. Their sustainable functioning further depends on policy support and institutional backup. Ongoing related policy initiatives may offer windows of opportunity to foster the future provision of FES, such as the further development and implementation of the ‘Green Deal’ and the EU Forestry Strategy. FES assessment and monitoring systems should guide policy decisions and include data on forest conditions, societal demands for FES, as well as information on the institutional setting and economic revenue streams as InnoForESt exemplarily provided. In addition, building stakeholder networks for knowledge exchange and learning is important for innovation development. Local forest owners and managers play a key role for sharing experiences in these networks. However, findings indicate that the potential of private market-based mechanisms is limited, in particular for common goods such as most regulating and cultural FES. They need to be policy led and require public guidance to sustainably secure FES provision and financing.
For synthesising information on FES provision, InnoForESt merged quantitative information on forest ecosystem conditions and services with information from policy analysis to map biophysical, socio-economic and institutional landscape across Europe. An institutional assessment has been conducted covering 18 Member States and 30 policy strategies. An EU wide survey has been conducted to gain information on innovation activities among private and public forest owners and managers in collaboration with the twin project SINCERE. This stocktaking resulted in integrated maps of forest ecosystems and services and a database for forest governance as a European forestry innovation landscape. For knowledge exchange and network creation, six innovation platforms have been created to serve regional stakeholder demands. They function as open spaces for exchange to carry out innovation development, their assessments, and to coordinate innovation networks with diverse sets of stakeholders. What started on local/regional level has been iteratively extended to national and EU scope.
A structured series of workshops have been carried out in each IR for Constructive Innovation Assessment (CINA), to generate insights about required working conditions for innovations and future pathways for development. Outcomes served forestry actors to gain a better understanding of future development potentials of payment schemes and networking approaches, and strengthened their cooperation for collective action. Regional-specific prototypes for FES provision have been co-designed with stakeholders. For the exploitation and dissemination of project findings, sets of policy and business recommendations and briefs as well as support tools, methodologies and manuals have been produced and disseminated widely to forest owners and managers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), entrepreneurs, local, national and EU-level policy-makers, and scientists. Besides deliverables and scientific publications, the project’s dissemination materials include flyers, roll-ups, infographics, movies, blog posts and web information that serve different dissemination channels and display good innovation practices to different forestry-related target groups.
By building on a system-based understanding of forestry, InnoForESt has established links between innovative governance approaches, FES and required context conditions. InnoForESt conceptual-methodological core is a reflexive exploration of the opportunities and challenges for new actor alliances, partnerships as well as financing schemes for FES provision. Co-designing and implementing policy and business innovations and their participatory assessment form the central practical part of the project to foster, sustainable forest governance in Europe. The potentials of the six governance innovations for upscaling and transfer have been assessed in CINA activities and road maps developed for future proceeding. The Waldaktie (GER) as well as Biodiversity offsets (FI) seek to extend spatially and in scope but need further policy support and institutional backup. A new project for high school education for spiritual and recreational values has been launched in Sweden, wood-value chains in Austria have been broadened and business alternatives for tourism and carpenters created. Also the integrated mountain pasture-forest management system in Italy is successfully running and catching interest by neighbouring regions for adaptation.

The private sector has been engaged in new business models and financing mechanisms such as the tourism sector (like in the Italian IR or in Austria), construction companies (Finland), or educational businesses (Sweden). The Innovation platforms have been institutionalised by practice partners and offer permanent running fora for policy integration, coordination and joint administrative action. Due to the multi-actor approach of the project that builds on stakeholder participation and inclusion, it is assumed that resulting governance innovations are societally embedded, thus work on a sustainable basis. Besides in-depth deliverables, synthesis reports on workshop findings, lesson learned and success criteria for innovation establishment, an FES governance navigator and manual as well as dedicated training events to develop innovation capacities, have been designed, tested with stakeholders and students, and are publicly available for wider societal use and impact.
Innoforest image (Rights adquired through the project)
Volunteers in New Virging Forest (Author: Cmelák)
Colbrikon Lakes and Forest (Author: Ruggero Alberti, PAT)
School project 2017 Winner (Author: Universeum)