New legal structure for long-term protection

The transformative effect of a 150 year protection lease? 

A mechanism is being developed to offer private owners the opportunity to protect wild or wilderness areas on their land effectively ‘in perpetuity’.

The initiative has been created by a partnership between Wild Europe and the Lifescape Project conservation charity in tandem with international law firm Clifford Chance LLP.

Known as “The Legal Mechanism”, this involves legal owners granting a guardian charity the right to enforce ecological protections over the land for 150 years or more, whilst retaining effective ownership of the land for themselves and their descendants, using a leasehold structure. The leases would contain covenants stipulating land use that gives full protection to ecosystems with their wildlife.

Based on well-established procedure in the ‘built’ property sector, the concept is now proven for legislatures in England, Wales and Scotland; a technical brochure has been produced and initial consultations are taking place with landowners. 

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New “LEAF” initiative to support forest protection

Logging lorry
An Early Warning System can help prevent illegal logging (Agent Green, Romania)

A proposal by Wild Europe involves linking a network of NGOs, individual conservationists, land owners and community members dedicated to saving remaining natural forests in Europe.

Named by its acronym of LEAF, Last European Ancient Forests, and coordinated by a small secretariat, the initial objective will be to create a platform in support of the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy targets – including strict protection of all old growth/primary forests.

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European Parliament Environment Committee call for moratorium on logging of old growth/primary forests

The temporary moratorium lays a clear path to effective protection, and should deter destruction or degradation of these forests in advance of any legislation.

Protect forests, don’t burn them. All eyes are on the European Parliament

It forms a key element in a package of suggestions launched by the Committee on 28th May for a Biodiversity Law they propose by 2022, backed with legally binding targets for 2030.

Other proposals include revision of rules for EU bioenergy production, currently enabling subsidy of commercial scale forest biomass burning despite this worsening climate change, to align with objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and Climate Law.

The text will be voted in plenary on 7th June.

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.”

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Further progress towards German forest wilderness targets

A further 1950 hectares of beech forest has been purchased for the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, North of Frankfurt – adding a further 30% to the existing old growth forest area, with some trees up to 500 years old.

The Northern slopes of Kellerwald, Wildnis in Deutschland

“This is where tomorrow’s wilderness arises and the protection of these areas makes a valuable contribution to natural forest development and the promotion of biodiversity,” Priska Hinz, Hessian Environment Minister affirmed.

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European Investment Bank – a major player for wilderness?

European Investment Bank sign
European Wilderness Bank?

Our response to the consultation on EIB’s road to becoming a “Climate Bank” stresses its great potential opportunity to underpin major natural ecosystem conservation.

True protection principles must be safeguarded, given greater need to rely on private sector participation as COVID undermines official funding sources. There will also be a need for a more ‘balanced portfolio approach’ to include softer loans and grants. And projects funded must genuinely support the Paris Agreement in addressing climate change, with no more scope for image-tarnishing subsidised wood burning bioenergy.

However, if these issues are addressed, EIB could have a highly important potential role to play in achieving ambitious targets old growth forest protection, and restoration of large no-extraction natural ecosystem areas (AKA wilderness).

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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.

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Three speakers at the BioStrategy launch
Frans Timmermans launches the BioStrategy with Commisioners Kyriakides (Health, Food Safety) & Sinkevičius (Environment)

EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: A major step forward

The EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy published on 20th May retains the visionary key targets in its earlier version. 

Proper implementation of the Strategy will require adequate funding and enforcement on the ground. Nonetheless the Commission is to be congratulated for sticking to its guns, so far, in advocating necessarily ambitious objectives for protection and restoration.

This represents good news for large natural ecosystem areas (“wilderness”) and natural forests – responding positively to major requests in Wild Europe’s most recent representation to Frans Timmermans and the Commissioners for Environment, Agriculture & Rural Development and Energy. This was subsequently responded to by Environment Commissioner Sinkevicius.

Forest
Ecologically priceless, beautiful – but is it protected? Matthias Schickhofer

Strong EC Commitments to protection

Key commitments by the Commission in the Biodiversity Strategy include

Legal protection by 2030 for a minimum 30% of the EU’s land and seas:

  • Strict protection for at least a third of these Protected Areas – ie 10% of total area, offering great potential for large natural ecosystem areas
  • This stipulation includes strict protection of all remaining EU old growth/primary forests along with other ecosystems
  • Establishment of comprehensive green & blue ecological connectivity
  • Call for effective definitions, mapping and management of the above – with implicit funding availability

For restoration – there is a new EU Nature Restoration Plan, with core focus on ecosystem services:

Aerial view of fenland landscape
The Great Fen – international icon for peatland restoration, IUCN UK National Committee
  • Legally binding Nature Restoration Targets by 2021 for degraded ecosystems
  • These include no deterioration in PA conservation status by 2030
  • Criteria for additional areas to be determined at national level by end 2021, with effective action by 2023
  • 3 billion trees planted by 2030 (natural forest is needed)
  • 25,000 km of free flowing rivers, which can be linked to ‘blue connectivity’ and basin-scale flood mitigation, including restoration of riverine, flood sink and upland watershed forest and wetland
  • A new CAP to deliver at least 10% of agricultural area under “high diversity landscape features”. Wild Europe will be re-stressing its proposal for a supplementary Ecological Focus Area, tradable at regional level, to promote creation of consolidated large areas of natural ecosystem funded by CAP

A more mixed picture for renewable energy

For renewable energy, and the related RE Strategy, the picture is more mixed. 

A stain on the EU image: subsidised destruction of beech forest for commercial burning
  • Wording of permitted inputs for bioenergy remains significantly vague. Use of whole trees should be disallowed for financial support, not just “minimised”
  • It is unclear whether improved operational guidance on RED II sustainability criteria will support further improvements needed to recent TEG Taxonomy suggestions 
  • Subsidies for wood burning bioenergy must cease forthwith or this damaging practice, now representing half of timber consumption in Europe, will continue to undermine all eight elements of the EU Green Deal and compromise the EU’s coveted position as global leader in sound environmental practice. A poor image at COP15 in Kunming, 2021.

As Environment Commissioner Sinkevicius said at the Biodiversity Strategy launch “We cannot halt and reverse biodiversity loss without achieving Paris Agreement goals, and vice versa”.

Next steps in implementation

Much work is required to translate the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy commitments into adequate action.

  • Protection of old growth/primary forest should involve linkage of fragmented remnants and restoration of adjacent areas to enable proper ecosystem function and resilience 
  • The importance of scale and the central role of non-intervention management in delivering ecosystem services for strictly protected areas needs full recognition and application
  • The EC should promote the objectives of its Biodiversity Strategy in non EU European countries: through neighbour agreements, accession treaties, trade & aid policies, exchange of best practice
  • The 2021 EU Forestry Strategy needs to be truly aligned to biodiversity objectives with appropriate conservation measures
  • The new Forest Information System for Europe (FISE) should be an effective instrument for protection as well as restoration
  • Capacity building must address major gaps in the conservation sector’s ability to utilise macro-economic approaches and PES enterprise (payment for ecosystem services) for achievement of biodiversity objectives
  • The ‘significant proportion’ of the 25% EU budget on climate change to be spent on nature-based solutions needs clearly elaborating, along with other funding instruments – including the Recovery Instrument.
A strategy for all of Europe

A strategy for all of Europe 

The European Commission should also promote the objectives of its Biodiversity Strategy in non EU European countries.

Many of these contain the most valuable remaining areas of natural ecology in our continent, but generally have the lowest budgets for protection and the least effective legal protection. The EC can achieve much here: through neighbour agreements, accession treaties, trade & aid policies, exchange of best practice.

Implementation of Stage II of the current EU Wilderness Register, proposed by Wild Europe, will be an important step here. This would incorporate non EU countries into the existing Register and focus on non-extractive enterprise to secure conservation funding and local community and landholder support from the PES agenda

Funding and enforcement

The 20 bn Euro funding per year is relatively under budgeted for the scale of the task, and will have to come from private as well as public funds

There is additionally a ‘significant proportion’ of the 25% EU budget on climate change to be spent on nature-based solutions. This allocation needs clearly elaborating, along with other funding instruments – including the Recovery Initiative.

The need to ensure full enforcement is also critical. Many areas in the Natura 2000 network have little or no appropriate protection. Poor management at local level and slow prosecution are a major problem – with Court action at EC level (ECJ) on infringements of environmental law often being a very slow process.

Another glaringly simple problem is key habitats such as old growth forest are still not directly identified as requiring protection – one reason among many why the EU Guidelines on the Management of Wilderness and Wild Areas now need a Stage II version.

Effective reform of the Arhus Convention, strengthening access to information and justice for NGOs and individual citizens, will be helpful.

A complete overhaul of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure is also urgently needed.

Congratulations and cooperation

Subject to the above, the EU is to be warmly congratulated for advocating the visionary aims in its Biodiversity Strategy that are so critical for addressing the dual crises of climate change and species extinction.

For its part Wild Europe also looks forward to liaising closely with representatives from forestry and land user sectors – including CEPF, EUSTAFOR and EFI – in identifying common ground and ensuring benefit for local landholders and communities as well as conservation.

New Slovakian government unveils potent support for wilderness

The Slovakian government, newly elected on 29th February,  has announced strong protection for wilderness, forests and conservation generally.

Gerlachovsky stit in the High Tatras – Slovakia’s precious heritage deserves the respect of conservation

The programme presented by Prime Minister Igor Matovic introduces three measures of particular importance:

  1. In national parks at least 50% of land will be left unmanaged, promoting fullest re-establishment of natural ecosystem processes and resilience through a land use zonation system.
  2. Administration of protected areas will be unified under the Ministry of Environment, a move long requested by the conservation movement
  3. Increased public scrutiny of forest operations will be encouraged. A mobile phone app will be available for mass use to monitor logging and timber transport, and full forest management programmes with logging data are to be publicly available.
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Wild Europe input to Consultation on EU Climate Target

Wild Europe’s feedback on 15th April welcomed the more ambitious target of a 50%+ drop in the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

However it warned that, if subsidies for wood biomass continue, this target would be at risk – as would the EU’s continuing credibility as a respected proponent of best environmental practice.

Payment of these subsidies is a burden on productive business and personal livelihoods. As economies slowly rebuild post COVID-19, proponents of wood bioenergy subsidy will not be lightly forgiven for supporting the wastage of scarce capital on an expensive myth of renewable energy that actually worsens the climate change it claims to mitigate.

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“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.

Concern expressed over EC consultation on climate change target

Areal view of Romanian logged landscape
Romania’s new landscape. What message does EU wood bioenergy policy send to Bolsonaro about the Amazon rainforest?
(Andrei Ciurcanu, Agent Green)

A collective representation organized by Wild Europe in partnership with Birdlife International, expresses widely held concerns that the current EC consultation on the 2030 climate targets is misleading, and could end up undermining the mitigation of climate change.

It has been signed by 49 organisations across Europe in little over 48 hours.

The EC consultation questionnaire, which aims to collate opinion for developing energy and climate policies, effectively encourages agreement to more ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reduction in 2030 with greater use of renewable energy to achieve these. 

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TEG report calls for sharp curb to wood biomass burning

An independent EU Technical Expert Group (TEG) report just published recommends that only residues, thinnings and stumps should qualify as wood bioenergy fuel, along with separate “advanced bioenergy” feedstocks under the new Sustainable Finance Taxonomy (see technical annex for feedstocks). 

This in turn will determine eligibility for “green investment” status, counting towards renewable energy targets and involving literally hundreds of billions of Euros.

The recommendation is in sharp contrast to the broad leeway given for “whole tree” wood use by the EU’s Renewable Directive II. 

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Wild Europe proposes new approaches in the wood bioenergy campaign

The cost of wood burning for bioenergy continues to climb steeply.

Based on EUROSTAT solid fuel burning in the EU has increased by 260% since 1990 (Mary Booth’s presentation in Bratislava, November 2019)

A succession of scientific reviews has clearly demonstrated that a practice which now utilises nearly 50% of European timber output is not carbon neutral. It worsens climate change while destroying forest biodiversity, is notoriously energy-inefficient and wastes literally billions of euro annually in subsidies.

In Sound Science for Forests and Bioenergy, a newly released consultation document following its recent conference in Bratislava, Wild Europe proposes new approaches and alliances for tackling this situation. It calls in particular for wider engagement between conservationists, consumer groups, taxpayer associations and investment advisors.

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Forestry leaders confirm their support for old growth forest

Europe’s largest forestry associations support old growth forest Attribution: European Union

Clear support for the concept and value of old growth forest was expressed by leaders of the European forestry sector at the seminal EU International Conference on Forests for Biodiversity and Climate Change in Brussels.

Hubert de Schorlemer President of the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) – in grey suit – confirmed “If the small forests we still have which are really really old, we don’t afford to cut them down, no that’s clear“

Reinhardt Nerf, President of the European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) – in green jacket – stated “We see the very old forest as a focus of biodiversity and we take it out of timber usage” 

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Wild Europe online submission to EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy

Our input to the consultation exercise stressed the key importance of large natural ecosystem areas to the Strategy for adoption at the October 2020 UN Kunming conference.

This provided a brief summary, with input to follow in a Message from Bratislava containing recommendations from our conference in Slovakia on 20/21 November, and from partners in the Wild Europe network.

For climate change and biodiversity loss to be effectively tackled, and the failures of the 2010 Strategy not to be repeated, a quantum change in the capacity of the conservation sector, NGOs and EC alike, will be essential.

Wild Europe online submission on EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030

[Please note the consultation imposed a 4000 character maximum. For further information contact info@wildeurope.org]

Background

The New Green Deal is visionary. However, failure of the 2010 Biodiversity Strategy to achieve its main targets, continued loss of biodiversity, the enduring populist mandate from the 2009 EP Wilderness Resolution, the now clearly pivotal role of natural processes in addressing climate change, all point to the need for much stronger focus on protection & restoration of large non-intervention natural ecosystem areas.

The importance of these, also termed ‘wilderness’ and ‘wild areas’, lies in their environmental, economic and social attributes.

Recommendations

1) Reinforce conservation of large natural ecosystem areas

• Stronger very long-term protection of existing areas 

• Restoration of new areas, on a scale to ensure substantial mitigation of climate change 

• Linkage into wider ecological networks 

• Full implementation of nature & water legislation 

• Promoting protection in non-EU states via Neighbourhood Agreements, Accession Treaties, trade & aid policies 

• All biomes, with ecotones 

• Specific timeline targets

2) Protection of old growth/primary forest

• Strict protection of old growth/primary forest, clearly defined by criteria 

• Enforce full development & use of N2000 management plans, with divulgence of information 

• Rapid response to illegal logging, including fast track Court intervention and EC Audit enquiry; promote EUTR reforms 

• Increase the scale of old growth/primary forests 

• Clarification, to foresters, citizens & governments, of the vital role played by old growth (mature)/primary forest in mitigating climate change 

• Cessation of subsidy to timber burning bioenergy that worsens climate change

3) Supplementary actions to achieve the above goals

• Completed mapping of areas for protection & restoration; support for updates, monitoring & intervention [Early Warning System] 

• Set-aside of state forest agency areas where logging is uneconomic, or if contain old growth/primary forests 

• Adequate compensation for private sector landholders to protect forest & other habitat 

• Promoting the value of large natural ecosystems to governments, citizens & sector representatives

4) Appropriate policy and structures

Improve inter DG coordination, avoiding contradictory projects

• Capacity building in the conservation sector for key specialisms: economic valuation, enterprise management, finance, sociological input 

• Promote legal structures enabling very long-term protection in private ownership: freehold/lease arrangements, easements, trusts 

• Stage 2 of the Wilderness Register: include non EU countries; socio-economic & enterprise capacity 

• Stage 2 of the Natura 2000 Management Guidelines for wilderness & wild areas: include good practice exchange with Emerald & UNESCO networks; socio-economic & enterprise capacity 

• Closer coordination between EC, UNESCO and Bern Convention (if this remains an operating entity)

5) Greatly increased funding in New Green Deal

• Major reallocation of CAP budget to ecosystem service provision 

• Include 3% supplement to Ecological Focus Areas, tradable at regional level, creating new natural ecosystem areas 

• Double the LIFE budget 

• 50% of EIB budget and 45% of the new NDICI (Neighbourhood, Development, International Cooperation Instrument) budget, Europe component, to address climate change with ecosystem restoration as a key element 

• Promote iconic regional scale nature-based initiatives addressing climate change – eg Clima Carpathia (FCC) 

• Facilitate funding mechanisms for the PES agenda: eg promote good practice for projects implementing forest & peatland carbon codes; support the Market Stability Reserve if Brexit dilutes carbon value 

• Promote use of innovative funding: eg Insurance Tax Premium supplements for flood mitigating restoration projects (river basin scale); EIB long-term soft loan capacity; mixed source Green Bonds 

• Promote the social benefit and deprivation agendas to key budget holders

20 January 2020

President Caputova opens the conference (Photo: Stefan Voicu)

A landmark for conservation

As Slovakia’s President opens the conference, EC Director General calls for stringent new protection – and restoration across Europe

Participants were honoured by a warm welcome from Her Excellency President Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia, who provided patronage for Wild Europe’s wilderness and old growth forest conference on 20th and 21st November 2019.

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Wood bioenergy “undermines every aspect” of EU Green Deal

Wild Europe’s draft consultation report, Sound Science for Forests and Bioenergy, examines the impact of wood burning for bioenergy the eight key elements in the European Commission’s draft Green Deal, published on 11th December 2019.

All elements are significantly undermined, as outlined below.

Logging of 180 yr old beech forest inside Bükk National Park, Hungary (WWF Hungary)

Tarnishing the EU’s environmental image

The European Union has won global respect over the decades as an iconic standard bearer for good environmental practice. 

This image is under a growing cloud as the Union continues to promote wood burning for bioenergy, despite its clear negative impacts on climate change, widespread destruction of biodiversity, inefficiency and huge expense.

Meanwhile further rapid growth is forecast, as international investors continue to take their cue from Europe’s example.

Brexit – still time to influence UK environmental policy

Our suited Briton has finally sawn off his branch

The Shakespearean theatre of Brexit completed its final act on 31st January 2020.  Accomplishment of a damaging misrepresentation or a visionary “taking back of control”, according to your viewpoint. We now need to move on.

Wild Europe marked the occasion by funding the latest stage of a wild nature mapping and strategy programme by our partners in France.

There is scope for us all to influence the consequences for environmental policy, from within the UK and – for a short while – also through pan European representation to EC negotiators

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Support the IUCN Motion on old growth forest

A Motion calling for improved policy and funding support for old growth/primary forest is now proceeding.

Based on the Protection Strategy from Wild Europe’s 2017 Brussels conference and associated consultations, the Motion for this Resolution was developed by Daniel Vallauri of WWF France. It is currently being discussed online: (https://www.iucncongress2020.org/motion/125).

The Motion will be proposed for adoption online in late March (online), or in June during the IUCN Congress in Marseilles. The resulting Resolution will provide a significant platform at the 2020 IUCN Marseille Congress for promoting stringent protection and extensive restoration across Europe.

ACTION: Please comment online, support – and forward this information to your networks. Deadline 11th of March!

Final stage for mapping wild France

Wild Europe signed an agreement on 31st January 2020 to fund the third and final stage of this initiative title “CARTNAT” to identify and map actual and potential wild and wilderness areas. 

France: Mapping for a vision of true nature

The exercise is undertaken by IGN (Institut National de l’Information Géographique et Forestiere), Nantes University and the Wildland Research Institute at Leeds University

Phase 1 ending in October 2018 developed methodology appropriate to project objectives and geographic criteria.

Phase 2 ending in October 2019 mapped ten test sites, of which seven contain significant wild or even prospective wilderness areas. The remainder provided a context of different land uses.

Phase 3, now starting, will extend the exercise to remaining areas across France. Along with its partners IUCN France and WWF France, Wild Europe has provided funding for all three stages.

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Give your views on wood bioenergy for an IUCN motion

Use of wood as bioenergy worsens climate change, is an expensive and inefficient form of energy generation and causes huge damage to forests across Europe and in the USA (see below).

Fighting for forests? IUCN Marseilles 2020

If you represent an IUCN member organisation or are a member of WCPA or any IUCN commission, you can comment on submitted motions for the IUCN 2020 Marseilles conference. 

Motion # 038 ‘Promoting biodiversity preservation through energy transformation measures’

Representations could include (a) end subsidies for burning wood for bioenergy (b) burning wood is not carbon zero (c) safeguards are needed to protect forest biodiversity. If you have a chance to comment the document, please do so before 26 February (and encourage other allies eg. European Paper Network network to do so too).

ACTION: Log into the conference website using this procedure

Need more information on wood fuel bioenergy?

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Latest stage in primary forest mapping completed – further funding needed

The updated mapping research for Europe’s last remaining primary forest, presented at Wild Europe’s conference in Bratislava on 21st November, represents the next stage in a programme to record all areas  

Dr. Francesco Sabatini presenting the results of the updated old-growth/primary forest mapping work in Bratislava (Wild Europe)

Conducted by Francesco Sabatini and his team from Humboldt University in Berlin, with input from 56 new experts, this update includes a further 700,000 hectares. 

It brings the total so far covered to 2.1 million hectares, or just over 1% of forested area – plus European Russia (up to the Ural Mountains) which holds a gigantic 35.5 million hectares.  

Countries added include Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Latvia, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Yet to be published, this update was funded by the Griffith programme of Frankfurt Zoological Society in conjunction with Wild Europe.

Next steps to address a growing threat

A further 3% of European forest cover is thought to exist in primary condition (outside Russia) – with more in Turkey and the Caucasus.  Adding this would bring the total of primary forest to just 4% of total forest cover.

Even though the majority of primary forest is nominally under some form of protection, only half is strictly protected.  The remainder is under threat, particularly from illegal logging and the rapidly growing use of wood for bioenergy.

With only around a quarter of primary forest so far mapped in Europe (outside Russia), further mapping and recording of status is a vital first step in establishing full protection.

Funding for this third stage is now being sought.

Definitions

Primary forests have no clearly visible indications of human activity, should have no current intervention and are subject to natural ecological processes. They represent an overall category encompassing old growth forest – a late successional stage – and, where applicable, virgin forest. Generally small and fragmented, they tend to occur in remoter areas and on steep slopes where logging is difficult.
The definition used in the mapping exercise is from FAO (FRA 2015 Forest Resources Assessment Working Paper 180).

The original mapping exercise

The original mapping exercise for primary forest was unveiled at Wild Europe’s Brussels conference in 2017, and published in 2018 by Francesco Sabatini and his Humboldt University team. 

Known primary forests in 2018 – the original map

The mapping covered 1.4 million hectares in 32 countries (0.7% of Europe’s forest area). 

Protection levels for forest mapped in 2018

The mapping exercise determined that, even though 90% of primary forests are nominally under some form of protection, over half (54%) do not have strict protection.

European Natural Forest School project cancelled

Yet another victim of the Coronavirus pandemic, the inaugural programme of this pioneering educational project has been cancelled.

Due to run in Lubeck, Germany from 30/08/20 – 10/09/20 the Summer School was designed for advanced students and young professionals in conservation and forestry.

Involving a partnership between Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Natural Forest Academy together with Wild Europe, the programme covered natural forest ecology, protection and management from those with a practical understanding of the challenges involved.

There has been great interest, and the programme should be re-established soon. 

POSTPONED India welcomes you to the World’s premier wilderness gathering

WILD 11, the World Wilderness Congress, will be held in the city of Jaipur, in the Rajasthan province of North West India from 19th to 26th March.

In what has become the premier global wilderness gathering, some 1500 participants from 60 countries are expected.

Birla Auditorium
The magnificent Birla Auditorium at the Convention Centre, opened in 1963 by Pandit Nehru

Based at the Birla Convention Centre, the Congress provides an opportunity to shape policies and actions on wilderness, in time to influence ambitious wild nature targets at the seminal UN CBD Kunming Congress in October 2020. Surrounding this focus is a vibrant array of talks, specialist symposia, workshops, youth programmes, training sessions, exhibits and expeditions.

Jaipur and its surrounding province, with its palaces and forts, lush tiger forests of Ranthambore and arid Thar Desert, is steeped in history of the British Raj and Maratha and Moghul empires before it – stretching back thousands of years to the most ancient Indus civilizations.

See https://wild11.org/the-congress/#2020 for WILD 11 objectives, programme detail and ancillary activities.