Life Terra takes root in the Czech Republic – EURACTIV.com

As part of Life Terra’s ambitious plans for European forests and citizens, the foundation collaborates for the first time with a landowner in the Czech Republic. Their joint reforestation is also a research project supported by the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CZU). A tree planting day for citizens took place in the village of Vintířov on Friday, 19.11.2021.

Life Terra is a pan-European project involving 8 EU Countries co-financed by the European Commission under the LIFE Programme which aims to plant 500 million trees until 2025 to restore our relationship with nature and contribute to mitigating climate change.

It is in fact 4 projects rolled into one as it combines science-based tree planting, new technology to track and monitor all newly planted trees, citizens’ active involvement and educating future generations.

Our European Forests

Forests are covering around 36% of Czech landscape. The woods have always been a popular retreat place for Czech citizens and open to the public, as it is forbidden to fence forests. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, when movement in the cities and public gatherings was limited, forests offered abundant space and calmness for all visitors.

However, Czech woods have been devastated by bark beetle infestation that broke out in 2018. While Czechia is natural habitat for bark beetle, extreme weather conditions seen in past years have damaged the resilience of trees and helped the beetle to spread rapidly. Renewal of Czech forests is a top priority for the whole country.

“Forests in the Czech Republic, to some extent throughout Central Europe and the world, are currently under pressure due to changing environment,” said Vilém Podrázský, professor at the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences (ČZU).

“It is in the interest of the whole society to restore and restructure forests so that they can fulfil complex functions in the landscape such as providing protective, regulative and productive environmental services that fundamentally benefit society”, he added.

Podrázský stressed that restoration of forests is a comprehensive task. “Individual forest owners and managers will certainly welcome all sorts of activities leading to forest regeneration and verification of new, or rather forgotten and less frequent, practices.

These include testing of tree species that can withstand altered environmental conditions and contribute to restoration of fully functioning forest ecosystems with a beneficial impact on the landscape and fulfilling the production function,” he said.

Some solutions

The Life Terra partners are keen to stress that tree planting is not a panacea, i.e. it is simply not enough to master the threatening, very complex reality of the climate crisis.

Life Terra sees tree planting as one important, concrete step within a framework of more sustainable lifestyles. Finding the right balance of interests and the best way for individual tree plantings projects is challenging.

Sven Kallen, Founder of Life Terra Foundation said: “We want our work to be worthwhile so that what we plant now will be thriving in 40 or 50 years. That means we need to take future climate scenarios seriously. We are very grateful for the interest of innovative landowners like the forestry operations Thurn-Taxis, who have a long-term partnership with the CZU for research purposes.”

The landowner Karl Ferdinand Thurn und Taxis explained: “In our climate zone that tends to be too dry for silviculture, we have been experimenting with local wood species for a long time. The mixed forest here seems to be coping better with increasing droughts. It is partly a matter of what the trees or species are adapted to already. We are now excited to experience and evaluate seedlings of foreign provenance from even drier climates.”

Like so many forest owners he is worried about how to keep our green lungs intact for generations to come.

Moving away from focusing on commercially important woods, like the bark-beetle-infested spruce, can benefit healthier forests and ecosystems if this transition is a joint societal effort that ensures landowners long-term capacity to maintain and reinvest into our precious common good, the European forests.

For more info, please click on www.lifeterra.eu or contact trees@lifeterra.eu.


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