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Spurring INnovations for Forest ECosystem SERvices in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SINCERE (Spurring INnovations for Forest ECosystem SERvices in Europe)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-03-31

Forests are a crucial reservoir of biodiversity, help mitigating climate change, and provide biomass for the bioeconomy. All these goods and services can be subsumed under the concept of ecosystem services. Yet, providing forest ecosystem services is not without challenges. For instance, urban societies may perceive forests predominantly as natural space for recreation, while the forest industry is most interested in wood supplies, suggesting different management actions. Tradeoffs between ecosystem services thus need to be managed, to align the provision of forest ecosystem services with multiple societal demands – a key challenge for forest management and policy across Europe. Changing ecological forest conditions, most importantly climate change, add to this challenge.
SINCERE’s main goal is to advance innovative mechanisms that support the provision of forest ecosystem services across Europe and beyond, and to make recommendations for a coordinated, supportive policy framework. SINCERE implements 11 practical innovation actions that involve alternative business models (e.g. a licensed mushroom-picking forest) or new governance mechanisms (e.g. payments for ecosystem services systems). SINCERE connects actors across the practical action cases (forest managers, businesses) to the scientific knowledge (researchers) and policy sphere (decision-makers) to tackle the following objectives:
1) Provide improved knowledge about innovations related to forest ecosystem services;
2) Develop and advance concrete “innovation actions” for providing forest ecosystem services, establishing a collaborative “Learning Architecture” across cases and countries.
3) Support the implementation of innovation actions by analyzing their sustainability and scalability;
4) Analyze how EU policies can better enhance innovations for forest ecosystem services.
5) Disseminate project-generated knowledge towards multiple communities, ranging from businesses to policy-making and civil society.
SINCERE has prepared an interactive inventory of forest ecosystem services-related innovations. We have implemented a European-scale survey with forest owners and managers focusing on ecosystem services. Special attention has been paid to developing a ‘what works’ report on Payments for Ecosystem Services concept in Europe, on which we have prepared a high-level journal publication.
All eleven innovation actions have been successfully implemented with a strong involvement of stakeholders. This implementation has been strengthened with a series of cross-fertilization activities where these local innovators learned from each other’s experiences and from best European practices. The sustainability of these innovations has been assed and measure on how to continue them beyond the project’s life-span have been designed. A sustainability assessment for the stakeholder interactions designed in the SINCERE that focus on fostering forest-ecosystem focused innovations has also been made. An analysis of the policy frameworks for forest ecosystem services has been conducted, connecting local, national and EU-level. Upscaling potential of each of the project’s case studies has been assessed, and all of the project’s research activities have been synthetized into a series of ‘lessons learnt’ that have been further transformed into a information brief on innovative business models and a policy brief focused on measures to ensure sustainable supply of forest ecosystem services in Europe. All of this was elaborated in detail to a policy commentary paper; a scientific-article style of a text that in detail examines all of the project’s finding that are of policy relevance. These documents were produced also as a reflection of the needs of policy makers and stakeholder on the subject-matter. All of the activities stated above were closely followed by project’s communication and dissemination team. They have utilized various channels and methods so that these messages generated by the project reach appropriate audiences in appropriate format and timing. All of their work is finally distilled into a dissemination package; a document describing all of the project’s main products (report, publications, presentations, videos, infographics, etc.). The three main, final dissemination products of SINCERE are the above mentioned policy brief, policy commentary paper and final SINCERE video.
The 'what works' meta-analysis of global PES studies has provided critical knowledge to support an increased uptake of PES schemes in Europe. Data of the European forest owner and manager survey allows mapping in detail the spatial distribution of supply of forest ecosystem services, their profitability, and the potential occurrence of related innovations, linked to data on forest and socioeconomic factors. We are putting forward a European map of forest ecosystem services supply that we believe to be of high political importance.
As for the implementation work in our 11 innovation actions, valuable practical experience has been gained, for instance through implementing reverse actions for biodiversity conservation with private landowners in Denmark, supporting a new forest law for multiple ecosystem services in Russia, or advancing the business model of funeral forests in Switzerland.
The sustainability assessment of these innovation actions provides a valuable tool also for future applications. Together, the knowledge gained forms the basis for a) assessing upscaling options for forest ecosystem services related innovations, and b) deriving recommendations for a future European policy framework.
The policy brief and the policy commentary paper have received a lot of attention in the EU policy sphere, as (following the new EU forest strategy) assuring sustainable supply of multiple forest ecosystem services is now one of the prioritized policy issues. One of the policy mechanism to ensure this happens is implementation of PES schemes; and SINCERE experiences provide a valuable basis of localized cases that could be upscaled to regional levels; we also provide top-down policy recommendations on how this could be achieved through changes in EU and national legislations.
SINCERE Video
Cultural services: Spiritual forests
1st Swiss MAG meeting
Sincere website screenshot
2nd Catalan MAG meeting
1st Russian MAG meeting
Regulating services: Forests for water
1st Swiss MAG meeting
Provisioning services: non-wood forest products
1st ECOPAY MAG meeting