The final InnoForESt special issue is published!

Special Issue “Governance innovations for sustainable forest ecosystem service provision”:

European forests provide a wide range of ecosystem goods and services vital to society; however, their sustainable provision remains challenging. This Special Issue explores the status of forest ecosystem services (FES) supply and demand in Europe and investigates how to foster the development of innovative governance arrangements, management, and business solutions for the sustainable provision of FES based on good practice examples. To that aim, we focus on pioneer governance innovations such as new payment schemes, network approaches, policy entrepreneurs, and policy mixes for e.g. carbon sequestration, biodiversity protection, enhancing recreational values, and improving forest-timber value chains in a range of biogeographical regions and institutional regimes of European forests.

In this Special Issue (SI), we highlight multi-disciplinary conceptual, methodological, and empirical approaches for the analysis of governance innovations and assessment of sustainable FES provision that have been developed and applied in a number of case studies across Europe. On a conceptual level, an integrated approach that links biophysical conditions to governance situations and technical infrastructures is guiding the various empirical contributions to identify factors that influence, this is, to promote, or inhibit the implementation of novel governance mechanisms. Methodologically, a wide set of inter- and transdisciplinary methods for knowledge generation is applied such as integrated mapping approaches that combine biophysical and institutional information, multi-actor expert consultation, multi-criteria assessments, participatory scenario development, and visioning techniques.

Our findings illustrate how a multi-method and multi-actor visioning and assessment approach has fruitfully orchestrated a constructive debate among stakeholders across Europe on the chances and challenges of forest governance innovations, to allow for their further uptake in forest policy, business and practice. The idea of continuous exchange between stakeholders and scientists and with diverse stakeholder groups shows fruitful co-design work on governance innovations. This intense collaboration and the co-generation of knowledge is at the heart of multi-actor-oriented innovation activities that allowed in our cases the formation of new alliances and networks, particularly on local and regional levels for constructive exchange and mutual learning. Such knowledge integration is key to working towards more sustainable provision of the wide range of FES.

The various contributions in the Special Issue illustrate that societal demand and motivation from forest owners and managers for improved ecosystem service delivery exists, but their supply requires institutional support that allows for needed transformations. At the EU policy level, currently, the Green Deal, as well as revisions of the Forestry Strategy, offer windows of opportunity to better foster FES provision on a European scale. More than before are forests at the heart of solution strategies for biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation. These political quests need to be translated to private and public forest owners to acknowledge and compensate for their additional efforts for FES provision. Prospectively the provision of biodiversity habitat, carbon sequestration, and recreation services should be an explicit part of the forestry portfolio and a management alternative where the EU provides a framework with a forestry strategy that helps to align actors and sectors for sustainable forests. It is promising that we find many good examples of innovations all over Europe that successfully provide the range of FES with functioning compensation mechanisms and collaboration efforts in place. These should serve as good practice examples for scientific as well as practice exchange and for learning how to showcase functioning innovation development across sectors and scales. In this vein, feel inspired; the future is green!

Carsten Mann, Lasse Loft, Monica Hernandez and Enzo Falco


InnoForESt seeks to spark a transformation of the European forest sector by stimulating innovations for the sustainable supply and financing of forest ecosystem services.

European forests provide a broad range of ecosystem goods and services vital to society, however their sustainable provision remain challenging. InnoForESt is a European project funded by the Horizon 2020-Innovation Action to further explore the delivery of forest ecosystem services and foster the development of innovative policy, management, and business solutions. The project brings together a consortium of five European universities, seven environmental and forestry agencies, seven NGOs and a variety of SMEs, forest owners and networks.

InnoForESt will support the governance of viable innovations and a multi-actor network by building on pioneer policy tools and business models, by establishing new alliances, and by involving key stakeholders from forest and forest-related policy, administration and business.

The project is based on six representative case studies. They focus on successful policy and business initiatives as pioneer innovations and represent a range of biogeographical regions of European forests. This cases are used to develop similar innovations, building on and simultaneously upscaling existing innovations. This will lead to the more coordinated, efficient and sustainable governance and financing of forest ecosystem services in Europe.

InnoForESt Innovations in Focus

Value Chains for Forests
and Wood – Austria

Increase value-added in regional wood processing

Habitat Bank – Finland

A novel payment scheme for biodiversity conservation

Waldaktie – Germany

“Forest Shares”: A new payment scheme for climate protection

Forest Pasture System Management – Italy

Active forest management guaranteeing the maintenance of multiple forest functions

Collective Governance of Ecosystem Services – Slovakia/Czech Republic

Collective action for climate regulation and further benefits

Love the Forest – Sweden

Enhancing fascination for the Swedish forest

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