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Sustainable, transnational management for Europe’s multifunctional forests

Effective and adaptive management tools for the European forestry sector which support and enable coherent policies, rely on accurate research-based knowledge. The SUMFOREST project has reinforced scientific cooperation towards this end.
Sustainable, transnational management for Europe’s multifunctional forests
The management of Europe’s forests face a range of land-use, environmental, climatic, and socio-economic challenges at the local, regional and global levels. Whilst there is no common forest policy within the EU there are many policies and directives which do impact the European forestry sector. This state of affairs leaves forestry management across the EU fragmented, complex and sometimes contradictory.

The EU-funded SUMFOREST project was set up to rectify this situation by building on the results of research to strengthen sustainable forest management (SFM) practices providing a solid basis for policy decisions. Under the auspices of an ERA-NET (European Research Area-Network) the team succeeded in developing research funding collaborations between 23 partners, from 15 European Member States, three associated states and two international institutions.

Towards forest policy cohesion and coordination

Owing to the diversity of tree species and ecosystems, European forests provide a wide array of goods and services. In more recent times use has expanded beyond traditional wood production to the provision of non-wood products (nuts, mushrooms, berries, game etc.) and ecosystem services that meet social needs, across industries such as recreation, health and wellbeing. By their nature these multifaceted uses - from the same forest areas - require a managed and sustainable approach.

This diversity also means that the forests are impacted differently by events such as climate and land-use changes. As project coordinator Mr Martin Greimel explains, “These regional differences both in terms of forest ecology and intended use, have to be captured so that they can be taken into account when designing and implementing regulations and policies, to give them a real chance of success.”

Trans-border variation also means that those regulatory and policy solutions, alongside their required resources, need to be available on a regional, European and international level. Currently, even though there exists European-wide forest-related policies and legislation, forest management regulation still lies mostly under the responsibility of Member States.

As Mr Greimel summarises, “SUMFOREST succeeded in better understanding these differences and, after mapping the European forest sector capacities, brought together different policy makers and stakeholders to find common solutions.” For example, one SUMFOREST partner (EFI) established a European policy think tank called ThinkForest.

Exercising forestry foresight

As well as working to increase understanding of forest related policy frameworks, SUMFOREST convened researchers, civil servants, European Commission representatives and forestry sector stakeholders, to develop a prioritised list of emerging issues for European forestry research.

These exercises resulted in a report that identified the main information needs of policy makers, leading ultimately to the Joint SUMFOREST Call for funding research proposals that could support the ‘Sustainable forests for the society of the future’ ambition.

As well as regular consultation with the Member States of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) and the Programme Committee (PC), SUMFOREST also supported cooperation between the forestry research funding organisations in Europe and beyond. This lead directly to the setting up last year, of the EU-funded ForestValue project which has already launched its own joint call for research proposals and also includes most of the SUMFOREST partners.


SUMFOREST, sustainable, management, wood, forest, land use, environment, climate change, transnational, policy, diversity, species, ecosystems
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