International conference for primary/old growth forest

A summit to catalyse joint action for the world’s remaining natural forests was co-hosted in webinars on 25/26th March by Wild Heritage and Wild Europe. 

This represented the European element in a regional series under the auspices of the IntAct initiative, involving participation by Rebecka le Moine MP (Sweden), Ville Niinisto MEP (Finland) Michal Wiezik MEP (Slovakia) and others from the European parliament, with a range of international speakers and NGO expertise.

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International conference for primary/old growth forest

A summit to catalyse joint action for the world’s remaining natural forests was co-hosted in webinars on 25/26th March by Wild Heritage and Wild Europe.

This represented the European element in a regional series under the auspices of the IntAct initiative, involving participation by Rebecka le Moine MP (Sweden), Ville Niinisto MEP (Finland) Michal Wiezik MEP (Slovakia) and others from the European parliament, with a range of international speakers and NGO expertise.

Cyril Kormos of Wild Heritage (US) introduced the aims of the summit: the European element of a global series promoting coordinated protection of primary/old growth forest. Toby Aykroyd of Wild Europe outlined the special circumstances relevant to forest conservation here.

The summit highlighted the value of old growth/primary forest generally with Professor Brendan Mackay of Griffith University (Australia) addressing the interlinked challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. It also stressed the importance of strict protection involving total non-intervention. Professor William Moomaw of Climate Research Centre (US) introduced the concept of ‘proforestation’ and emphasised the need for restoration to be based on ecological principles, with natural regeneration prioritised over planting wherever feasible.

The global significance of EU and national government forest policy was reviewed, with focus on how to build effectively on policy gains and tackle problematic issues such as forest bioenergy – explained by Mary Booth of PFPI (US), while David Gehl of EIA (US) addressed illegal logging. Virginia Young (Intact Global) introduced the Nexus Report and underlined the need for UNFCC and CBD to appreciate the spiralling link between biodiversity health and climate change.

Following introduction by Matthias Schickhofer (Euronatur, Germany) of a proposed project to promote old growth forest protection in the EU, recommendations were then collated for an international strategy of cooperation. Zoltan Kun of Wild Europe summarised these.

Further details of the strategy will be published.

Agenda

Background

Presentations

References

Updated on 8 April 2021

Former UNFCCC chief casts further doubt on wood bioenergy subsidies

An ill wind? When renewable energy is not renewable

Adding his voice to a growing chorus of scientific concerns that wood bioenergy burning worsens rather than resolves climate change, highly respected former UNFCC Vice Chairman of Jean-Pascal van Ypersele has issued a clear statement:

“To subsidise an activity that has negative consequences for the climate and the environment is totally contradictory with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the goals of the conference (COP26) due to take place in Glasgow at the end of the year.”

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Former UNFCC chief casts further doubt on wood bioenergy subsidies

An ill wind? When renewable energy is not renewable

Adding his voice to a growing chorus of scientific concerns that wood bioenergy burning worsens rather than resolves climate change, highly respected former UNFCC Vice Chairman of Jean-Pascal van Ypersele has issued a clear statement:

“To subsidise an activity that has negative consequences for the climate and the environment is totally contradictory with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the goals of the conference (COP26) due to take place in Glasgow at the end of the year.”

Read More …

Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Wild Europe’s Action Plan for large natural ecosystem areas – in EU and non EU countries – was launched on 11th January.

Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Described as ambitious but thoroughly practical, the Plan is strongly supportive of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and many of its key targets run in parallel:

  • Strict protection for a linked network of areas covering 10% of Europe’s terrestrial and marine areas
  • All old growth/primary forest to be included in strict protection together with adjacent areas – totalling some 15% of forest cover
  • Such strict protection to involve non-intervention, particularly for forests, unless necessary in limited circumstances for protection of individual endangered species

Targets built on inter-sector consensus

Such targets are underpinned by recognition that adequate compensation must be paid to private landholders, alongside full activation of the Payment for Ecosystem Services agenda and significant support for carbon rich ecosystems from the Climate Fund. It is important to build common ground with inter-sector consensus to achieve this.

There are a couple of dozen projects already underway in support of the Plan, and Wild Europe is one of 6 NGOs (along with IUCN, WWF, BLI, FERN and EEB) on the EC’s Forest and Nature Working Group, providing input for implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Strong emphasis is placed on reasserting the integrity of Europe and the EU’s global status for environmental probity – with a call for cessation of all subsidies for forest bioenergy, and their reallocation to genuine renewables that address rather than aggravate climate change.

Published on 1 March 2021

EU Parliament critical of Svydovets resort plan

Natural landscape of the Svydovets region

An EP Resolution on implementation of its annual EUAA Report on Ukraine, published 11th February, criticises planned development of this mega ski and recreation complex in the Zakarpattia oblast of the Ukrainian Carpathians, forecast to host 28,000 visitors per day.

The Resolution calls on the Ukrainian government to prevent widespread illegal logging – particularly of primeval forests – which it cites as the main cause of flooding in the region. It further calls on the EU to take steps help prevent such logging “in connection with the unlawful Svydovets ski resort project”.

Establishment of more protected areas in the country is also requested

Read More …

Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Wild Europe’s Action Plan for large natural ecosystem areas – in EU and non EU countries – was launched on 11th January.

Described as ambitious but thoroughly practical, the Plan is strongly supportive of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and many of its key targets run in parallel:

Such targets are underpinned by recognition that adequate compensation must be paid to private landholders, alongside full activation of the Payment for Ecosystem Services agenda and significant support for carbon rich ecosystems from the Climate Fund. It is important to build common ground with inter-sector consensus to achieve this.

Read more

France – superb potential for pleine naturalité

France SauvageNew national wildness network proposed

Earlier this summer, Wild Europe with its French associates proposed an initiative to coordinate support for creation and protection of wilderness (espaces à haute naturalité) and wild areas (zones sauvages). 

Based on the Wild Europe definition[1] of such areas developed in 2012, this would involve creating “France Sauvage”, the working title for a network of NGOs and supportive entities to champion the set aside of large areas of natural ecosystem where non-intervention allows natural succession (libre evolution), with management by natural processes.

Read More …

“Not all biomass is carbon neutral” First sign of realism from the wood bioenergy industry?

At last key figures in wood bioenergy burning are acknowledging rapidly accumulating scientific evidence on the worsening of climate change caused by their industry.

Not all biomass should automatically be categorised as carbon neutral” admitted a “chief sustainability officer” of US-based Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets for commercial power generation, during a webinar discussion on 29th June.

The wood bioenergy industry – going up in smoke? (Dogwood Alliance)

The overall message still lacks full credibility. “To bring climate benefits, biomass needs to come from low-value wood residues or smaller trees coming from timber harvests – not from high-value trees that could be used in products like furniture or construction material” the Enviva spokesperson is reported as saying. 

The narrative is thus more about not burning valuable quality timber than the notoriously high emissions from wood bioenergy – and no doubt results from growing concern even within the forestry sector about such blatant wastage.  Many energy plants claim to only burn residues, despite clear photographic evidence to the contrary, and there is widespread practice of chipping timber into ‘residues’.

The first sign of realism?

Nonetheless this admittance marks the first sign of realism from a wood bioenergy sector that has devoured massive quantities of consumer and taxpayer resources, to the tune of some 6.5 billion Euros for just 15 EU countries in 2017, despite wood being the least efficient form of renewable energy with emissions even higher than natural gas. 

Consuming 400 million tonnes per year of wood in Europe, wood bioenergy is devastating biodiversity rich forests and is likely to make crucial 2030 climate targets significantly less achievable.

Raising awareness of voters, consumers, taxpayers

An initiative is underway to raise awareness of this situation among voters, consumers and taxpayers. Their eyes will shortly be on policy makers to cease all subsidies to wood bioenergy, reallocating incentives to effective, less polluting sources of renewable energy as well as genuine means of addressing climate change such as insulation, recycling and emission reducing technology.

Banks, funds and general investors wood bioenergy should also take heed that the writing is firmly on the wall for the future value of their holdings.