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    The roots of innovation – setting the course for innovation and sustainable growth in the forest sector

    Forests provide numerous benefits to society, ranging from products such as timber to services including landscape amenities, recreation opportunities, biodiversity protection, clean air and water, and climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration. As the importance of these goods and services continues to grow, the forest sector is increasingly considered a key pillar of the future, providing solutions to the countless challenges that society is currently facing. Today, innovation is more crucial than ever for overcoming global challenges. It is essential to understand that innovation is more than just a good idea – it requires the combination of people, resources, and a supportive political environment!

    This year, the International Day of Forests (IDF) theme is ‘Forests and Innovation.’ In alignment with this theme, FOREST EUROPE organized a webinar on 14 March 2024 to commemorate the day. The IDF, which is celebrated annually on 21 March, celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. More than 110 participants joined our webinar, which aimed to highlight the importance of innovation by showcasing existing innovative practices and exploring ways of addressing the topic at the policy level.

    Representatives of networks, including the Forest-based Sector Technology Platform (FTP), WoodPoP, and Future Forest Initiative (FFI), as well as start-ups like Breeze Technologies and Forest Mapping Management, provided insights from the practical perspective. They highlighted the uniqueness of their work ranging from their mission, roles, business models for forest owners and other stakeholders, and the integration of technology to address challenges such as wildfire detection and forest mapping processes. Speakers from Austria and Spain shared knowledge about their countries’ innovation ecosystems, contributing to a deeper understanding of the existing policies and the innovation-friendly environment they create. Structures and strategies directed towards foresters and government are necessary for the achievement of smooth dynamics between practice and policy.

    In addition, participants had the opportunity to network with other start-ups and networks in the ‘Room for Innovation’ session, comprising of 4 breakout rooms: EFI Bioregions Facility, Firepoctep+ project, Lykaia and Forest.io. See here all the presentations.

    Some of the key messages from the speakers on how to promote innovation in the forest sector included the importance of aligning priorities, coordinating policies, fostering cross-sectoral collaboration, creating enabling environments, including funding opportunities and other support services, and integrating policy, science, and practice at all levels. Embracing digital skills and fostering cooperation and co-creation were also emphasized.

    Watch here the recorded webinar

    The next webinar from the “From the Roots to the Canopy” series will be Spotlight on Forest Genetics: An Unseen Ally in Adapting Forests to Drought on 15 April 2024, 10:00-12:00 CEST, in collaboration with FORGENIUS and EUFORGEN. Mark your calendars and watch the webinar live on youtube.com/foresteurope/live