The European network INTEGRATE promotes and advances forest management approaches for the integration of nature conservation into sustainable forest management at three levels: the decision-making policy level, the level of forest practitioners/managers, and the level of research and academic knowledge. It currently comprises 15 European member states and involves about 50 representatives of policy and research related to forests and environment as well as the European Commission.
The network was initially brought into life by German federal minister Christian Schmidt for Food and Agriculture and his Czech colleague Marian Jurečka (Prague Declaration), and subsequently supported by the European Commission’s Standing Forestry Committee (Terms of Reference INTEGRATE). Forest management challenges related to nature conservation are rather similar across Europe. States within and outside the EU already plan on being actively involved in the network. INTEGRATE member states will provide forest areas on which their successful management strategies can be exemplified.
Nature conservation and biological diversity enhancement in forest management
We are facing a growing demand to increase nature conservation in Europe’s forests as well as the request to leave more forests un-managed, to take them out of the economic loop. These demands however, the latter in particular, are very difficult to combine with other societal demands on the forests as well as with intentions of forest owners. Moreover, as science tells us, setting aside managed forests is not always the best way to protect species and habitats in the cultural landscapes of Europe. Besides that, there is the urge to increasingly bring European forest management in line with climate change adaptation.
Cross-border and international transfer of knowledge for nature conservation in practice
The INTEGRATE network fosters knowledge transfer across borders and aims for capacity building in the field of integrated forest management. A great feature of the network is the integration of science, field experience and practical examples into its pool of knowledge. Participants are able to exchange best-practice and success stories, and collaborate in answering questions that are particularly relevant in forest management practice: Are successful integrated forest management concepts applicable in different contexts? How do those concepts affect other requirements on European forests? What are the extra costs?
The European Forest Institute (EFI) will accompany the process in its role as facilitator and scientific advisor. Other relevant research initiatives are taken into account as well.
The overall objective of INTEGRATE is to promote successful forest management concepts across borders, based on empirical experiences and on science, to identify successful management practices and to transform them into recommendations targeted at forest practitioners.