Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - SUMFOREST (Tackling the challenges in sustainable and multifunctional forestry through enhanced research coordination for policy decisions)

Project Context and Objectives:
Summary description of project context and objectives
The important climatic, environmental, socio-economic and land-use changes taking place at global, regional and local levels, pose new challenges for meeting the multifunctional demands on European forest resources, and for their sustainable management. In the European Union the formulation of forest policies is in the competence of the Member States. Although the Treaties of the EU make no provision for a common forest policy, there are a high number of European policies and directives affecting European forests and the forest based sector. Thus, the current forest policy environment is fragmented, complex and sometimes contradictory. Furthermore, European forests consist of a wide diversity of forest ecosystems and tree species, which provide different goods and services that are affected differently by climate and land-use changes. Therefore, a proper understanding of such regional differences is needed for the creation of mutual understanding on sustainable forest management and multifunctional forestry, providing a solid basis for policy decisions.
In this complex context, research-based information and knowledge should be the basis for developing adaptive management tools and models, new innovation frameworks and coherent policies. This ensures the implementation of sustainable forest management and thus the multifunctional role of European forests. However, European forest research is (with a few exceptions only) still fragmented and enhanced cooperation and coordination of research activities carried out at regional and national levels is urgently needed. Reinforcing scientific cooperation on European forests through a transnational ERA-NET, which builds new cooperation arrangements with European neighbourhood regions will reduce fragmentation and maximise the impact of research activities on sustainable forest management and multifunctional forestry.
Sumforest establishes a network bringing together 23 key actors from 15 European member states, 3 associated states and 2 international institutions. Observers from The Netherlands, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, Algeria and Russia increase the influence and impact of the network. Additionally, Sumforest establishes fluent communication with ERA-LEARN 2020 as well as innovative scientific cooperation with related ERA-NETs (e.g. WWN+, FORESTERRA, Biodiversa and the KBBE PLATFORM), the JPI FACCE as well as the most relevant COST Actions (e.g. FP1103 FRAXBACK and FP1207 ORCHESTRA), Forest Owner Associations (e.g. CEPF and EUSTAFOR) and Industry (e.g. FTP). Moreover, IUFRO participates in the Stakeholder Advisory Group through its existing network. Close cooperation has also been established with the SCAR SWG Forest.
The aim of this powerful network is to play a crucial role in harmonising existing and future research programmes and supporting policy decisions relevant to the topic of sustainable forest management and multifunctional forestry. The ERA-NET Sumforest deepens the mutual understanding of sustainable forest management and multifunctional forestry, providing a scientific basis for policy decisions in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy, and for the EU Forest Strategy.
One important pillar of Sumforest is developing a comprehensive method for mapping forest research capacities and transnational cooperation. Consequently , strategic joint activities and transnational research funding is implemented to reinforce scientific cooperation on forests through the European area and also outside of Europe. This helps fighting fragmentation and maximising the impact of research activities on sustainable forest management, and multifunctional forestry.

Project Results:
Description of work performed and main results
All work scheduled for the first period has been successfully implemented and all deliverables and milestones have been fulfilled.
Again in the second period, Sumforest has achieved all scheduled deliverables and milestones.
The 1st periodic report was delivered in time and accepted by the EC. The following 2nd payment was distributed to the partners, all Management Committee and Steering Committee meetings were organised as planned. The website was updated and newsletters informed about the developments and outcomes of Sumforest.

The mapping of research programmes and capacities was finalised and a priority list of research necessities was set up taking into account the needs identified when mapping the forest policies and the requirements stated during the discussions held with policy makers.

A SWOT analysis based on the outcomes of the mapping activities was prepared and discussed during a Workshop in November 2015 in Paris. Outcomes of the Workshop were a “List of call topics for the joint call” and a “Strategic Action plan” which was published in June 2016. Launching of a joint call with the overall topic “Sustainable forests for the society of the future” was agreed on in consensus at the Steering Committee meeting that followed the Workshop in Paris.
A call secretariat, a call website, documents on procedures and guidelines for applicants as well as guidelines for evaluation were produced. Research funding organisations within and outside of Europe were invited to express their interest to participate in the joint call for research projects. Finally, 24 funding organisations from 20 countries (16 EU member and associated states as well as Belarus, Canada, Russia and Tunisia) signed up for the call. A Call Steering Committee was established and met in February 2016 in Brussels. 9.3 M€ of funding (virtual pot) was secured in a Memorandum of Understanding. A one-step call was launched officially on 21st of March and closed on 17th of June 2016. 27 proposals were submitted and remotely evaluated by an International Evaluation Panel (IEP). The IEP met early September 2016 in Bonn and established a ranking list. At the second Call Steering Committee meeting in September 2016 in Bonn, finally 7 proposals with an overall requested public budget of 8.4 M€ were selected and national negotiation with the proposers started in October 2016.
The planned second call with a focus on Russia and the Eastern Partnership Countries unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the economic crisis in the EU and in the other foreseen partner countries. However, Russia and Belarus participated already in the first call, although difficulties with the national evaluation procedure in Russia have caused some drawbacks.

Another strategic activity dedicated to mobility schemes in the forest research area was finalised as well and in order to establish long term cooperation Sumforest supported the setting up of an ERA-NET Cofund proposal on “Innovative forest based bioeconomy” under the WP 2017 of SC 2 in H2020.

Cooperation with Russia and Eastern Partnership countries could be intensified with the final result that Russia and Belarus participated in the joint call with substantial budget. Out of the 27 submitted proposals 12 proposals involved partners from Russia and/or Belarus. Unfortunately, last minute difficulties with the Russian funding agency’s national evaluation regulations led to serious problems when selecting the successful proposals. Finally two of the seven selected Sumforest research projects involve Russian research partners. They started to contribute to the Sumforest projects with their own research funding and at the same time they still negotiate with the Russian funding agency about further financing. Belarus also participated in the joint call and researchers from Belarus will take part in one of the selected proposals.
Although FORESTERRA has ended in 2015 close contacts could be established to former partners from this ERA-NET and FORESTERRA partners contributed substantially when the call topic was set up. As a result several FORESTERRA funding agencies participated in the joint Sumforest call.

Potential Impact:
Expected final results and potential impacts
The ERA-NET project Sumforest is well on its way. All deliverables and milestones foreseen for the first 36 months have been provided.
For the next reporting period the following main expected activities are foreseen:
• Finalise the negotiation and kick off the 7 selected projects from the joint call
• Producing monitoring guidelines for the projects
• Organising a two stage young researchers summer school
• Setting up a MoU for a long term cooperation between all partners
• Arranging a final conference

List of Websites:

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