Their aim is to foster innovation in the European forest sector and to encourage public and private investment in innovative projects devoted to the forest-based economy. The main focus of the 2018 edition was to present innovative initiatives from all over Europe, with an emphasis on EIP AGRI Operational Groups.

Marie-Alice Budniok from the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) presented the InnoForESt project at the workshop. InnoForESt stands for “Smart information, governance and business innovations for sustainable supply and payment mechanisms for forest ecosystem services”. InnoForEst is funded under the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union as what is termed an “Innovation action”. This is a type of funding that is focused on activities that are “close-to-the-market” which aim to produce new products of services or to improve existing ones. InnoForESt launched in November 2017 and will run for a period of 36 months. It brings together 16 partners from 9 EU countries.

Budniok introduced InnoForESt and its goal: to spark a transformation in the European forest sector by steering policies and businesses towards the provision of forest ecosystem services.  The main challenges of achieving this are coming to terms with the various contexts, policy instruments and business mechanisms across Europe, as well as a lack of knowledge about ecosystem services. The project team will analyse good practices, innovative governance approaches and alternative income streams from forest ecosystem services and will then publish their set of recommendations on how to scale up the provision of forest ecosystem services.