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European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article21 March 2022European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency

5 LIFE projects safeguarding our forests 

Today is the International Day of Forests, and to mark the occasion, here is a selection of LIFE projects working to protect the lungs of our planet. 

LIFE16 GIE/CY/000709

Healthy forests provide us with clean air and water and are home to 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity. They help regulate our climate by influencing rainfall patterns, cooling urban areas and absorbing greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, 10 million hectares of forest are either degraded or destroyed each year – that’s an area 1.2 times bigger than the island of Ireland. 

On this special day for forests and trees, read how LIFE is helping to reverse the trend. 

Assessing climate change risks in France 

Climate change can negatively impact the growth and productivity of forests. LIFE FORECCAsT helped forest managers in France’s Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park implement climate change adaptation strategies. They built a mobile application to help foresters assess and manage the risks to their land. 25 sites tested climate-resilient tree species and forest management practices that use less water. Organisations in Belgium, Italy and Slovenia have shown an interest in using the app.  

Preventing forest fire devastation in Hungary  

Less rain, higher temperatures, and a series of winters without snow mean forest fires are rising in Hungary. FIRELIFE provided information to teachers, social workers, farmers, and forest fire prevention experts to enhance forest fire prevention across the country. The FIRELIFE team participated in 60 events and carried out an impressive media campaign, reaching more than 80% of Hungary’s population. The number of forest fires decreased by nearly a third, and the size of the area burnt fell by almost 90%. Other countries can follow FIRELIFE’s checklist for developing their own fire-prevention systems and tools. 

Restoring 7 forest habitats in Bulgaria 

Forest fires, pests, disease outbreaks and reckless human activity have damaged forests in southwestern Bulgaria. The LIFEFORHAB project is restoring seven forest habitats in six Natura 2000 network sites in this part of the country. The team is setting up a high-capacity production line for containerised seedlings. They aim to process seven tonnes of seeds from 50 forest species, produce around 860 000 containerised seedlings from priority forest species, and restore more than 104 hectares of priority forest habitats, among other actions. 

Promoting a forest park in Cyprus 

Cyprus’s Troodos National Forest Park is one of the most visited Natura 2000 sites on the island.  
The iLIFE-TROODOS project aimed to further increase public awareness of the area’s natural values and its ecosystem services. The team ran a major information and awareness campaign targeting Cypriots and tourists. And they held specialist workshops for foresters and even created cartoons for children. These actions strengthened public support for Natura 2000.  

Protecting oak forests in Germany 

The Villeforests Natura 2000 sites between Cologne and Bonn are home to the oak-hornbeam forests. These trees thrive in waterlogged conditions, but their survival is endangered by a network of drainage ditches and climate change impacts. The LIFE Forests-waterworlds team improved hydrology by closing drainage ditches and raising the water level. These measures also helped stabilise populations of several endangered amphibian species like the midwife toad and agile frog. They also developed an app for visitors to discover more about the forests and their inhabitants. 

These five LIFE projects, and many others, support the EU Forest Strategy for 2030, one of the flagship initiatives of the European Green Deal. The plan will help reach the EU’s biodiversity objectives and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. 

Image: LIFE16 GIE/CY/000709 - iLIFE-TROODOS - All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

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