European Policy Lab gathers stakeholders to map forest policy opportunities and barriers

13 December 2023

This press release has originally been published by EurekAlert! and AlphaGalileo.

The Horizon Europe project ForestPaths held its first Policy Lab collecting stakeholders’ main priorities regarding the opportunities and barriers for forest-based policymaking.

ForestPaths’ first Policy Lab convened stakeholders in Helsinki, Finland, on 27-29 September 2023. Nineteen carefully selected participants with diverse expertise – including research, policy, governance, civil society, value chain professionals, and forestry practitioners – engaged in discussions on forest-based policymaking and modelling related to climate change and biodiversity.

Tasked with considering policy actions given different timescales, governance paradigms, enablers, and barriers, participants contributed observations essential for ForestPaths' modelling and data objectives, as well as for the project’s forest-based policy pathways for climate change mitigation. They deliberated on the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems, potential outlooks, associated risks and scenarios, policy trajectories, and the utilisation of forest modelling as an analytical tool.

The project’s Policy Lab embodied an innovative approach for fostering strategic and forward-thinking insights, making use of cross-disciplinary perspectives to strengthen policymaking. The most noteworthy take-home messages included a desire for more sustainable and circular forestry products, a call for the inclusion of long-term forest considerations in policies, and the significance of providing practical guidance to forest managers through advisors to ensure regulatory compliance.

After the Policy Lab, upon being asked for his opinion on the event, Michael Salka (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) stated:

“It is no easy feat to convene a dialogue broadly representing forest value chains when every forest is unique and the demand side sectors range from paper products to large wood buildings. The first ForestPaths Policy Lab excelled in distilling specific, synergetic policy priorities for a circular bioeconomy from such complex, multi-dimensional conversations. I look forward to discovering how these priorities become actions through the next events."

The feedback and lessons learnt from this first event will be built upon in the remaining Policy Labs, which aim to:

  • Second Policy Lab (September 2024): Elicit medium and long-term visions of European forests and the forest-based sector and policy actions to achieve them;
  • Third Policy Lab (September 2025): Co-examine initial pathways results;
  • Fourth Policy Lab (October 2026): Provide policy recommendations derived from the pathway analysis and evaluation.

Following the successful completion of the first Policy Lab, ForestPaths’ co-creation process continues with the project’s online Policy Engagement Forum, enabling a wider array of stakeholders to join the conversation.