Old Growth Forests In Slovakia Will Be Protected In Newly Established Nature Reserve

From WWF Central And Eastern Europe
Old Growth Forests of Slovakia is the official name of a new nature reserve approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic. Establishment of the new reserve is a result of long lasting effort of two conservation organizations OZ Prales and WWF Slovakia. Yet unprotected or insufficiently protected old growth and natural forests in 76 localities througout Slovakia with a total area of almost 6.5 thousand hectares are going to be declared a nature reserve on December 1st, 2021.

About a year ago (September 17th, 2020), WWF Slovakia and NGO PRALES submitted a petition with more than 30,000 signatures supporting the declaration of The Old Growth Forest Reserve to the Slovak Minister of the Environment Ján Budaj. The petition was the last step in the long-lasting efforts of the organizations to protect remaining old growth forests in Slovakia. However, the effort of NGOs had begun years ago by old growth forests mapping and continued through numerous negotiations and the preparation of the conservation proposal itself.

„Under the Carpathian Convention, Slovakia made a commitment to identify its natural forests and old growth forests. We seized this task in the belief that it is a topic, which can unite foresters and conservationists. Unfortunately, this was not the case. However, the results of mapping were gradually recognized by the relevant state institutions, although we lost several hundreds of hectares of old growth forests on this route. Therefore, in addition to all those involved in mapping and ensuring the protection of forests, I would like to thank all foresters who perceived the protection of old growth forests as our commitment to future generations,” says Marián Jasík, conservation expert from OZ Prales.

“When in 2017 WWF Slovakia entered into negotiations about the protection of old growth forests in Slovakia, the topic was impassable for many foresters or officials. However, as we did not retreat in our efforts, the first success came in 2019, when a new amendment to the Forest Act allowed forest owners and managers to protect old growth forests in their possession on a voluntary basis. The global loss of biodiversity we are witnessing nowadays is historically the largest and fastest ever, therefore I believe that no one doubts that the old growth forests in Slovakia deserve proper protection,“ says Miroslava Plassmann, director of WWF Slovakia.

Old growth forests mapping lasted from 2009 to 2015 and had proven that 10,180 hectares remained in Slovakia out of which one third is unprotected or insufficiently protected. Therefore, NGO PRALES and WWF Slovakia prepared a proposal for establishment of a nature reserve in 2018 and after several negotiations with the Forests of Slovak Republic state enterprise (LESY SR) gained a public commitment that foresters will not intervene in the localities identified as parts of the proposed nature reserve until the final decision about the proposal is made. In 2020 the 30,759 people signed petition organized by WWF Slovakia and Prales supporting the declaration of the new nature reserve Old Growth Forests of Slovakia.

The Government of the Slovak Republic approved establishment of the nature reserve on November 3rd, 2021. The Old Growth Forest of Slovakia nature reserve will become a reality on December 1st, 2021. It will include 76 state owned forest localities in various parts of Slovakia with a total area of 6,462.42 hectares.
With this decision, Slovakia contributes to the goals in the Carpathian Convention and in The EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030, according to which “all of the EU’s remaining primary and old-growth forests should be strictly protected.”

Source: Old Growth Forests In Slovakia Will Be Protected In Newly Established Nature Reserve – Scoop News, 2021-11-06

Forest reserves expand by 95,000ha in Belarus over 5 years

MINSK, 15 September (BelTA) – Over the past five years the forest reserves in Belarus increased by 95,000 hectares, First Deputy Forestry Minister Valentin Shatravko told reporters at a press conference on 15 September, BelTA has learned.

“The Belarusian model of public forest management is gaining wider recognition at the international level, and there are grounds for this. Due to the efforts of domestic foresters, the quality of the forest reserves has improved. The area of forest reserves has been constantly growing over the past 30 years to reach 9.6 million hectares, the total forested area is 8.3 million hectares. The latter has grown by 95,000 hectares literally within five years,” the first deputy minister said.

Valentin Shatravko also pointed to the increase in the proportion of land area covered by forests. “The total reserves of plantings are also on the rise. Today they make up 1.838 billion cubic meters. The stock of mature and over-mature trees is also growing; it already amounts to over 400 million cubic meters. The average yield of wood per hectare keeps growing, too. Not it stands at 223 cubic meters per hectare. The intensity of forest use is consistently increasing throughout the country, which, among other things, has to do with an increase in the area under mature forests. At the same time, forestry industry complies with all environmental regulations. The efficiency of forest management is increased without jeopardizing the environment and biological diversity,” the first deputy minister emphasized.

“Within three years, all areas that were under forests are being reforested. Earlier, we were concerned by the drying out of pine forests, which peaked in 2018 and was aggravated by the drying up of spruce forests. But these days, the amount of forest restoration and recovery activities shrank by more than 10 times over 2018. This suggests that the situation has stabilized and is under control. Yet, forests are constantly monitored in order to prevent similar situations in the future,” Valentin Shatravko added.

Source: Forest reserves expand by 95,000ha in Belarus over 5 years – Belta, 2021-09-15

BGCI Launches the State of the World’s Trees Report

A third (30%) of the world’s trees are at risk of extinction.

  • Well-known trees such as magnolias and dipterocarps among most threatened, with oaks, maple (Acer) and ebonies also at risk.
  • Agriculture, logging, and livestock farming are the top threats but climate change and extreme weather are emerging dangers.
  • Islands including St Helena (69% of trees threatened), Madagascar (59%) and Mauritius (57%) have highest proportion of threatened trees.

Read the Report

(London, UK) — Today, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has published a landmark State of the World’s Trees report. The report, compiling work led by the Global Tree Assessment (GTA), is the culmination of five years of research to identify major gaps in tree conservation efforts. It is one of the first assessments of the world’s threatened trees.

Examining the globe’s 60,000 tree species, it reveals that 30% (17,500) of tree species are currently at risk of extinction. That means there are twice the number of threatened tree species globally than threatened mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined.
Over 440 tree species are right on the brink of extinction, the report reveals, meaning they have fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild. These species are found all over the world, from the Mulanje cedar in Malawi, with only a few remaining individuals on Mulanje Mountain, to the Menai whitebeam found only in North Wales, which has only 30 trees remaining.

The report finds hope for the future, however, as conservation efforts led by the botanical community worldwide are growing. Identifying which trees are at risk and ensuring these are protected is the most effective way to prevent extinction and restore endangered species. The report reveals that at least 64% of all tree species can be found in at least one protected area, and about 30% can be found in botanic gardens, seed banks, or other ex situ collections, but further action is needed.

The State of the World’s Trees report brings together research from over 60 institutional partners, including botanic gardens, forestry institutions and universities worldwide, as well as more than 500 experts who have contributed to tree assessments in the last five years.

Source: BGCI Launches the State of the World’s Trees Report – Botanic Gardens Conservation International, 2021-09

Upward expansion and acceleration of forest clearance in the mountains of Southeast Asia

Yu Feng, Alan D. Ziegler, Paul R. Elsen, Yang Liu1, Xinyue He, Dominick V. Spracklen, Joseph Holden, Xin Jiang1, Chunmiao Zheng and Zhenzhong Zeng

Southeast Asia contains about half of all tropical mountain forests, which are rich in biodiversity and carbon stocks, yet there is debate as to whether regional mountain forest cover has increased or decreased in recent decades. Here, our analysis of high-resolution satellite datasets reveals increasing mountain forest loss across Southeast Asia. Total mean annual forest loss was 3.22 Mha yr−1 during 2001–2019, with 31% occurring on the mountains. In the 2010s, the frontier of forest loss moved to higher elevations (15.1 ± 3.8 m yr−1 during 2011–2019, P < 0.01) and steeper slopes (0.22 ± 0.05° yr−1 during 2009–2019, P < 0.01) that have high forest carbon density relative to the lowlands. These shifts led to unprecedented annual forest carbon loss of 424 Tg C yr−1, accelerating at a rate of 18 ± 4 Tg C yr−2 (P < 0.01) from 2001 to 2019. Our results underscore the immedi-ate threat of carbon stock losses associated with accelerating forest clearance in Southeast Asian mountains, which jeopardizes international climate agreements and biodiversity conservation.

Source: Upward expansion and acceleration of forest clearance in the mountains of Southeast Asia – Nature Sustainability, 2021-06-08

Forest the size of France regrown worldwide over 20 years, study finds

By Oliver Milman
An area of forest the size of France has regrown around the world over the past 20 years, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off, a new analysis has found.

Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, the research found, providing the potential to soak up and store 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the annual emissions of the entire US.

The two-year study, conducted via satellite imaging data and on-ground surveys across dozens of countries, identified areas of regrowth in the Atlantic forest in Brazil, where an area the size of the Netherlands has rebounded since 2000 due to conservation efforts and altered industry practices.

Another regrowth area is found in the boreal forests of Mongolia, where 1.2m hectares of forest have regenerated in two decades due to the work of conservationists and the Mongolian government. Forests also made a comeback in parts of central Africa and Canada.

However, the world is still experiencing an overall loss of forests “at a terrifying rate”, the researchers warned, with deforestation occurring much faster than restoration schemes.

Over a similar period outlined in the regrowth study, which was led by WWF as part of the Trillion Trees project, 386m hectares of tree cover were lost worldwide, around seven times the area of regenerated forest.

Source: Forest the size of France regrown worldwide over 20 years, study finds – The Guardian, 2021-05-11

Invasive beetles killing off Japan’s cherry, peach trees

By Japan News-Yomiuri
Cherry and peach trees across Japan are dying at the hands of invasive beetles, and one expert warns that in the worst-case scenario, there may be no cherry blossoms to view a few decades from now.

The first report of damage by the kubiakatsuya kamikiri (red-necked longhorn beetle) came in 2012 in Aichi Prefecture. Now, 11 prefectures have been hit, with cherry trees dying in parks and schools, as well as peach trees in orchards.

The beetle, native to China and Mongolia, was designated an invasive species in 2018. It may have arrived in Japan in wooden packing materials.

“No matter how many times we get rid of them, they just keep coming back,” said the office manager at Tatebayashi High School in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture, while pointing out a tree that suffered holes in its trunk.

There were once 29 cherry trees fronting the school gate. They were popular among students and residents.

In July 2015, the trees started to die at the hands of the beetle. The school tried to fight off the bug with pesticide and covered tree trunks with protective nets. But swarms of beetles kept returning. By August, the staff was battling the bugs hands on and killed 350.

But since then, seven trees have been chopped down, and six stand dead. The remaining 16 are blooming poorly, and because large branches can suddenly fall off trunks, the school has given up. By the end of next year, all the trees will be gone.

The beetle’s high fertility and mobility make it especially threatening. While a Japanese long-horned beetle lays 100 eggs at most, the red-necked longhorn can lay more than 500 eggs and travel more than a mile by riding the wind.

With no natural enemies, its population abounds, and the fact that it prefers peach and cherry trees only exacerbates the problem. So far, there is no definitive method for eradicating the bug.

In Tatebayashi, the government is paying residents about 50 cents per beetle killed. Last year, citizens killed 6,249 beetles. Yet the number of damaged trees grew.

“If we don’t act now, we may not be able to enjoy cherry blossom viewing 20 to 30 years from now,” said Ryutaro Iwata, a specialist in forest entomology. “The central government must establish a system to forcibly cut down, crush and burn the damaged trees.”

Source: Invasive beetles killing off Japan’s cherry, peach trees – Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 2021-03-18

New funds could help grow Africa’s Great Green Wall. But can the massive forestry effort learn from past mistakes?

By Rachel Cernansky
After returning home from college to northwest Cameroon in 2004, Tabi Joda felt a sense of profound loss. Trees that once bore fruit, provided medicine, and created shade had been cut down. Rich soils had turned to dust. “The land I used to know as a forest was no longer a forest,” he recalls. Joda, a business consultant, got to work, calling on what he’d learned in school and from local knowledge passed down over generations. He collected seeds, started a tree nursery, and launched an agroforestry initiative that enlisted local people in planting trees. They chose species that provided food and timber, supported livelihoods, and helped wildlife thrive. The effort soon spread to nearby communities. And Joda ultimately became a vocal advocate for an even bigger dream: the Great Green Wall, which aims to transform the lives of some 100 million people by planting a mosaic of trees, shrubs, and grasses along a corridor stretching some 8000 kilometers across Africa by 2030.

Since the African Union first launched the Great Green Wall in 2007, the initiative has struggled to make headway. Made up of local efforts across 11 countries, it has reached just 16% of its overall goal to vegetate 150 million hectares. But last month, the project—which analysts estimate will cost at least $30 billion—got a major boost: a pledge of $14 billion in funding over the next 5 years from a coalition of international development banks and governments. The money is meant to accelerate the effort to sustain livelihoods, conserve biodiversity, and combat desertification and climate change, French President Emmanuel Macron said in announcing the pledges on 11 January.

Environmental restoration and community development specialists welcomed the news. But many are also apprehensive. In recent years, research by ecologists, economists, and social scientists has shown that many forestry projects around the world have failed because they didn’t adequately address fundamental social and ecological issues. Project leaders often didn’t ask communities what kinds of trees they wanted, planted species in places where they didn’t belong, and did little to help the saplings survive. “Tree planting is often viewed as the simple act of digging a hole,” forest scientists Pedro Brancalion of the University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, and Karen Holl of the University of California, Santa Cruz, noted last year in a review of agroforestry projects in the Journal of Applied Ecology. “But this short-term, naïve view has resulted in large quantities of money being spent on … efforts that have failed almost entirely.”

It’s a problem that Joda knows well. “I have traveled the breadth of Africa and seen it everywhere,” he says. “Trees are planted, but they are not taken care of and so they never grow.” The question now, he and others say, is whether Great Green Wall projects fueled by the fresh burst of cash will heed those hard-learned lessons.

Source: New funds could help grow Africa’s Great Green Wall. But can the massive forestry effort learn from past mistakes? – Science | AAAS, 2021-02-11

Scientists address myths over large-scale tree planting

By Helen Briggs
Tree planting is a brilliant solution to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity, but the wrong tree in the wrong place can do more harm than good, say experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
The rules include protecting existing forests first and involving locals.

Forests are essential to life on Earth.

They provide a home to three-quarters of the world’s plants and animals, soak up carbon dioxide, and provide food, fuels and medicines.

But they’re fast disappearing; an area about the size of Denmark of pristine tropical forest is lost every year.

“Planting the right trees in the right place must be a top priority for all nations as we face a crucial decade for ensuring the future of our planet,” said Dr Paul Smith, a researcher on the study and secretary general of conservation charity, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, in Kew…

The 10 golden rules are:
Protect existing forests first
Keeping forests in their original state is always preferable; undamaged old forests soak up carbon better and are more resilient to fire, storm and droughts. “Whenever there’s a choice, we stress that halting deforestation and protecting remaining forests must be a priority,” said Prof Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at RGB Kew.

Put local people at the heart of tree-planting projects
Studies show that getting local communities on board is key to the success of tree-planting projects. It is often local people who have most to gain from looking after the forest in the future.

Maximise biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals
Reforestation should be about several goals, including guarding against climate change, improving conservation and providing economic and cultural benefits.

Select the right area for reforestation
Plant trees in areas that were historically forested but have become degraded, rather than using other natural habitats such as grasslands or wetlands.

Use natural forest regrowth wherever possible
Letting trees grow back naturally can be cheaper and more efficient than planting trees.

Select the right tree species that can maximise biodiversity
Where tree planting is needed, picking the right trees is crucial. Scientists advise a mixture of tree species naturally found in the local area, including some rare species and trees of economic importance, but avoiding trees that might become invasive.

Make sure the trees are resilient to adapt to a changing climate
Use tree seeds that are suitable for the local climate and how that might change in the future.

Plan ahead
Plan how to source seeds or trees, working with local people.

Learn by doing
Combine scientific knowledge with local knowledge. Ideally, small-scale trials should take place before planting large numbers of trees.

Make it pay
The sustainability of tree re-planting rests on a source of income for all stakeholders, including the poorest.

Source: Scientists address myths over large-scale tree planting – BBC News, 2021-01-26

Women’s voices in forestry

By Salome Kinkladze
Georgia’s forests have nourished the country’s women for generations and continue to do so. In the last several years a select few have also stepped forward as the forests’ protectors.

Marina Sujashvili, 67, was the first woman in Georgia to work as a forester. She is only one of seven women who currently work in the profession in the country.

Foresters in Georgia are ‘specialists in forest management, protection and use’ who not only protect a forest’s wildlife but take care of its entire ecosystem. They plant saplings and ensure the health of older trees, as well as keeping an eye on nearby agriculture and local woodland activity to ensure nothing falls out of balance.

For their important and varied role, they are more commonly known as ‘governors’ of the forest.

Sujashvili was inspired to take the job by her botanist mother who she had often accompanied on trips to the forest. She told OC Media that it is only natural that women work as foresters because, for many rural women, the forest is a way of life.

Source: In Pictures | Women’s voices in forestry – OC Media, 2020-08-28

World’s most comprehensive analysis of forest resources launched today in an innovative format

FAO launched today the most comprehensive forestry assessment to date in an innovative and easy-to-use digital format.

Available for public viewing, the Global Forest Resources Assessment report (FRA 2020) and its first-ever online interactive dissemination platform contain detailed regional and global analyses for 236 countries and territories.

Users can now consult a comparable and consistent set of more than 60 forest indicators across countries and regions and download the requested data in a non-proprietary digital format. Monitoring of change over time is also possible in parameters such as forest area, management, ownership and use.

The FRA 2020 key findings:

  • The world has a total forest area of 4.06 billion hectares, which is about 31 percent of the total land area. Europe, including Russian Federation, accounts for 25 percent of the world’s forest area, followed by South America (21 percent), North and Central America (19 percent), Africa (16 percent), Asia (15 percent) and Oceania (5 percent).
  • The global forest area continues to decrease, and the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest since 1990. However, the rate of net forest loss decreased substantially over the period 1990-2020 due to a reduction in deforestation[1] in some countries, plus increases in forest area in others through afforestation and natural expansion of forests.
  • Africa has the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010-2020, at 3.9 million hectares, followed by South America, at 2.6 million hectares. The highest net gain of forest area in 2010-2020 was found in Asia.
  • Since 1990 an estimated 420 million ha of forest has been lost worldwide through deforestation, conversion of forest to other land use such as agriculture. However, the rate of forest loss has declined substantially. In the most recent five-year period (2015-2020), the annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares, down from 12 million hectares in 2010-2015 and 16 million hectares in 1990-2000.
  • The area of forest in protected areas has increased by 191 million ha since 1990, and has now reached an estimated 726 million ha (18 percent of the total forest area of reporting countries). In addition, the area of forest under management plans is increasing in all regions – globally, it has increased by 233 million ha since 2000, reaching slightly over two billion hectares in 2020.
  • Top ten countries worldwide for average annual net losses of forest area between 2010 and 2020 are: Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Angola, United Republic of Tanzania, Paraguay, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Mozambique.
  • Top ten countries for average annual net gains in forest area in the same period are: China, Australia, India, Chile, Viet Nam, Turkey, United States of America, France, Italy, Romania.

Source: World’s most comprehensive analysis of forest resources launched today in an innovative format – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2020-07-21