NEWFOREX stakeholder workshop held in Copenhagen

Growing awareness of the importance of Earth’s ecosystems and the services they are providing for the existence of our societies is putting this topic on the agendas of policy makers, natural resource managers and the wider public. However, this increased attention is also triggering a number of questions related to the preferences of different stakeholder groups, how to handle the trade-offs between conflicting interests, costs and benefits of the provision of ecosystem services, which policy instruments can be developed to foster an optimized provision and use of ecosystem services, etc.

The NEWFOREX project (www.newforex.org) is addressing some of these key topics related to forest ecosystem services. The project’s key objectives are:

  • Improving methods for valuing forest ecosystem services with specific attention given to the question: Who benefits from the provision of these ecosystem services?
  • Methods for assessing the cost of provision of forest externalities, as seen from the forest owner as well as the society’s perspective.
  • Develop and assess market-based methods for enhancing the provision of forest externalities, like payment schemes, certification or (re-)definition of property rights.

NEWFOREX is already entering into the final phase, which means that the project consortium has accomplished major data collection efforts and will in the next period mainly work on analysis and dissemination of the results and main findings. To better target the dissemination efforts in a way that will increase their value for the main stakeholders a workshop was organized. To this event a number of relevant pan-European stakeholders (e.g., forest owners, public agencies, NGO) were invited to present them first results and messages for policy and practice from this project, and to obtain their views on how to bring results forward effectively to relevant end users.

During the workshop participants discussed the following topics:

The workshop concluded with a discussion about the possibilities and pitfalls ecosystem services are offering for the forest sector. In this sense the participants agreed that the diversity of European societies and forests makes it difficult to generalize findings and that customized approaches and solutions are needed when dealing with the provision of ecosystem services. However, this does not imply that new methods and approaches for enhancing the provision of forest ecosystem services should remain a gray zone, but rather that additional efforts are needed from all involved parties to find adequate modes of action. Finally, the meeting participants also agreed that the project should provide a number of short, non-technical communications how to address some of the challenges related to the provision of forest ecosystem services.