“LEAF” initiative to support 2030 BioStrategy forest protection target
A proposal by Wild Europe involves the creation of an international network of local NGOs, individual conservationists, land owners and community members dedicated to protection of old growth/primary forests.
Named by its acronym of LEAF, Last European Ancient Forests, the network would be coordinated by a small secretariat. Its initial objective will be to provide an Early Warning System: monitoring the condition of those forests, identifying and reporting any threats from logging or other degradation.
Appropriate action could then be discussed through the secretariat, prospectively including EC, government or other third party engagement, and allocated to the relevant party.
Originally proposed by Wild Europe for the 2017 Brussels conference, and since put to consultation, the LEAF initiative is being prioritized in support of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy target for strict protection to apply for all old growth/primary forests.
Dependent on available funding, other activities undertaken by LEAF could involve local capacity building: eg media work, representation and sourcing of protection incentives for forest owners from grant and PES funding. The aim is to protect forests, but wherever possible through positive liaison with landowners and communities.
Rapid action and effective action is needed where this is not possible. The earlier the ‘warning’ – for example marking of trees, building of new tracks – the greater the chance of averting a potentially destructive practice.
The LEAF network would utilize mapping of the primary forest undertaken by Francesco Sabatini and his team, the second stage of which was recently completed with funds raised through Wild Europe’s 2017 conference in Brussels, called to develop an Old Growth Forest Protection Strategy.
We are currently liaising on opportunities for production of a third stage in the mapping process. Of the 4% of forest cover estimated to involve old growth/primary, 3% still remains to be appropriately recorded, together with any relevant areas for restoration and connectivity.