Back to mapping primary forests

credits: Martin Mikolas

Forest and CO is formally over. I anticipate there is more to come, but for the moment you can see the results that we published here and here. Our project had quite an impact, I must say. I will describe its far-reaching consequences somewhere else, though. Rather than looking backwards, I’m here to tell you what’s going to happen.

Long story short. We are back in the game.

Thanks to the support of the Frankfurter Zoological Society (FZS), my colleague Hendrik Bluhm and I are now working on expanding the map of primary forests of Europe. The map we published in 2018 is indeed a great starting point, but still contains quite a few data gaps. Indeed, it contains geographical information on 1.4 Mha of primary forest throughout Europe, but we shall not forget that the latest estimates report as much as 4 Mha for Europe (FOREST EUROPE 2015). This means that we still have two-thirds of the way to go.

That’s the reason why we are now putting renovated effort into reaching out a new batch of researchers and NGOs from some critical countries like Belarus, Sweden, Serbia and Austria, among others. The idea is to retrieve new data sets and include them in our map. This new map will also include the contribution of other researchers who simply contacted us after in the last 18 months, to point out additional data sets to us. Not only, this new mapping effort will expand our geographical scope to also include Russia, which is probably one of the strongholds of primary forests.

The cool thing of this new endeavour is that it’s part of a wider research project, which aims at advancing the protection of the world’s remaining boreal and temperate primary forests, by improving the information base, identifying emerging threats, developing policy options, and investigating on-ground implementation issues through case studies. Project partners are Griffith University (lead partner), Australian Rainforest Conservation Society, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Geos Institute, National Institute of Aerospace, Partnerships for Policy Integration, Sukachev Institute of Forests, Wild Europe, and Woods Hole Research Centre.

The plan is to make this new, expanded map of primary forests publicly available in a Web-GIS hosted by one of FZS’s partner. Naturally, we will withhold sensitive data, for instance when their publication would jeopardize the conservation of a specific patch of forest, or where confidentiality agreements  exist, for instance, between data collectors and forest owners. Still, the hope is that this new resource will foster new research and discussion on the state of Europe’s remaining primary forests, and possibly build momentum to ensure that their special value is acknowledged and incorporated in environmental legislation and policies at different levels (see for instance here).

So, stay tuned and get in touch with us if you have suggestions, or if you would like to contribute.