Forests and Nature Based Solutions: Address the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergencies Together

A Letter in support of the New EU Forest Strategy post-2020

Sent to
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans
Commissioners Kadri Simson, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Jutta Urpilainen, Thiery Breton and Janusz Wojciechowski

By 62 Global Scientists

Provisions of the recent draft of the New EU Forest Strategy post-2020 have been heavily criticized by some members of the European forestry industry. The analysis of the specific challenges posed by the Swedish Forestry Association have been analyzed and 62 scientists from the European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and Iran endorse the attached, 2-page document that summarizes our findings.

We fundamentally disagree with the four points that are made in the Swedish Forestry Industry critique and the additional argument that forest bioenergy does not create a carbon debt. The forest industry points are inconsistent with science-based evidence and knowledge of forest ecosystems, forestry, and climate change. It is important that the major structure of the draft New EU Forest Strategy be retained and that an appropriate share of EU forests be utilized to respond to the urgent climate – biodiversity emergency.

The recent joint report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change make clear that climate change and biodiversity are part of the same problem and natural climate solutions that address both these emergencies are essential for solving either of them. The draft New EU Forestry Strategy-post 2020 is consistent with the conclusions of the joint report that a political entity like the EU should set consistent operating principles for forest management.

As our analysis makes clear, there is great potential for EU forests to accumulate significant amounts of carbon during the next 30 critical years and beyond to 2100 simultaneously as greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly being reduced. Both slowing emissions and removing atmospheric carbon dioxide are essential requirements to avoid catastrophic losses. Forest accumulation of carbon out of the atmosphere can be accomplished while maintaining a viable forest products industry by protecting the relatively small amount of remaining primary forests and an appropriate share of remaining, biodiverse secondary forests, and curbing harvesting for bioenergy.

The VITERBO DECLARATION on “Safeguarding functional beech forest ecosystems”

Researchers emphasize the need of implementing scientific knowledge on the complex structure and dynamics of old-growth beech forests worlwide to inspire new models of sustainable management, able to maximize forest contribution to global biogeochemical cycles and maintain their resilience to changing environmental conditions.

The irreplaceability of old-growth beech forests is contingent to their complexity and historical integrity, which make them a unique natural heritage. There is therefore an urgent need for the cessation of logging in old-growth forests, and for legislative powers to safeguard all remaining areas of old-growth ecosystems, and restore them across the landscapes.

An output of the 11th International IUFRO Beech Symposium “Natural and Managed Beech Forests as Reference Ecosystems for the Sustainable Management of Forest Resources and the Conservation of Biodiversity” (18-21 September 2018, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy) attended by 80 scientists from European Union, Switzerland, Turkey, Iran, Japan, USA and Canada.

The complete document has been published on IUFRO Group 1.01.07 webpage

The 11th International Beech Symposium (18-21 September 2018, Viterbo, Italy): Natural and Managed Beech Forests as Reference Ecosystems for the Sustainable Management of Forest Resources and the Conservation of Biodiversity

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About 80 scientists from 15 European countries, Turkey, Iran, Japan, Canada and USA joined the conference organized by the IUFRO Group 1.01.07 “Beech Ecology and silviculture” at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo (Italy) to present their research on beech biology and response to environmental factors, beech forest structure and dynamics, beech forest management, biodiversity and its conservation in beech forests. ITALIANO


Three invited keynote lectures (Neil Pederson from Harvard University, USA; Hanns Knapp from University of Greifswald, DE; Jacob Heilmann-Clausen, University of Copenhagen, DK) were accompanied by 43 oral presentations – among which 5 were selected as special talks with extra time – and 32 posters.

At the end of the second day, one hour was dedicated to an open round table discussion moderated da Pierre Ibish (University of Eberswalde, DE) and involving all invited speakers and sessions’ chairmen, focused on future priorities in beech forest research. On the last day, the participants visited the Monte Cimino UNESCO beech forest.

A group of participants remained for a 4-day post-conference fieldtrip to visit the UNESCO beech forests in the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, hosting the oldest European beech trees, and the Gargano National Park, with highly diverse refugial mixed beech forests.

The post-conference fieldtrip activities were reported on several newspapers and web media.

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The World Heritage Beech Forests Conference, Vienna, 23 July 2018


The World Heritage Beech Forests Conference was held in Vienna, Austria on 23 July 2018. Eighty-four participants from 15 States Parties came to discuss the challenges and future of the UNESCO World Heritage “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe.

The conference supported the upstream process and enabled direct communication with UNESCO and IUCN as well as among States Parties, and was therefore a unique possibility to communicate needs, existing tools and new options directly among all parties concerned. In three sessions Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, along with Mizuki Murai (IUCN), Pierre Ibisch (Eberswalde University of Sustainable Development), Alfredo Di Filippo (Università della Tuscia), Marian Gic (SOPSR) and Patrick Huvenne (Agency for Nature and Forests) together with Kris Vandekerkhove (Research Institute for Nature and Forests), presented the complexity of this serial UNESCO World Heritage site, with its 78 component parts in more than 40 protected areas across 12 European countries.

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