The SUPERB project has been launched in Romania
The SUPERB project, Europe’s largest cross-border Horizon 2020 project, was launched in the presence of the Prince of Wales in Sibiu, Romania, on 30 May 2022. The Romanian Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests, Barna Tánczos, was also present at the meeting. EUSTAFOR is on the advisory board of the project, which is being coordinated by the European Forest Institute (EFI). The project, whose full name is “Systemic solutions for upscaling of urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services,” involves more than 100 forest science and practice organizations in 20 countries and, most importantly, includes 12 large-scale forest restoration demonstration sites across Europe.
A unique aspect of the SUPERB project is the 12 demonstration sites, which are expected to result in a practical “Restoration Gateway” or tool kit of restoration support tools, guidelines, recommendations for those who intend to undertake forest restoration in future. The project is thus intended to remain relevant well beyond the 4 years for which it is funded. EFI’s CEO, Marc Palahi, stated that the SUPERB project will allow “some of the leading scientists and practitioners in Europe to demonstrate […] how we can restore forest landscapes for different purposes and benefits.” One of those benefits should be increased biodiversity, the topic of EFI’s newly-published report “Forest Biodiversity in Europe” (part of EFI’s From Science to Policy series) which was also presented during the launch of the SUPERB project. The report provides policymakers as well as forest and landscape managers with a better understanding of the complex subject of biodiversity in the context of European forests.
EFI also coordinates the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance which, in the words of the Prince of Wales who established the alliance in 2020, aims to provide “knowledge-informed support as well as a learning and networking platform to connect the dots between investors, companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations and local communities to advance the circular bioeconomy while restoring biodiversity globally.” The alliance is therefore well-aligned with the SUPERB project and is even funding one of the demonstration sites in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains. The 12 demonstration sites are located in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Spain (Castilla y León), Sweden and the United Kingdom (Scotland).
The first day of work at the kick-off meeting included presentations of the project’s 8 work packages and 12 demonstration sites. The second day of the meeting provided an opportunity for further coordination of the work packages and the development of the draft work plans of the demonstration sites. Participants were also invited to visit the field during a 2-day excursion following the meeting.
Work in all of the demonstration sites, which represent different stages of reforestation, is already well underway. However, although it quickly became clear that the project will involve a massive amount of data, the means of establishing a baseline and subsequent means for measuring the outcomes of this enormous project are still under discussion. Finding commonalities among the very diverse demonstration sites is particularly challenging, even more so because it is not clear what results can be expected from the restorative undertakings in the field. The European Commission Project Officer, Colombe Waring, made it clear that the Commission is relying on this project to provide insights for further legislative proposals concerning the practical implementation of its goals in line with its Green Deal.
EUSTAFOR has an advisory role in the SUPERB project and will be principally involved in providing feedback to and from our members through the dissemination of the project’s questionnaires, surveys and results. The initial questionnaire will be distributed in December 2022, and members will be provided with regular updates over the coming 4 years.
More information is available on the SUPERB website, which was launched on the first day of the meeting.