Sustainable-forest initiative in Belgium reviews its first five years

Sustainable-forest initiative in Belgium reviews its first five years
Credit: Felix Mittermeier / Pexels

The Regiowood II project, linking 12 partners in four countries, on Friday published its conclusions after five years of research aimed at enhancing the sustainable management of private forests.

The project, piloted by the Belgian non-profit association Ressources Naturelles Développement (ASBL RND), was launched in 2017. It covers the "Greater Region" - Wallonia, Germany’s Sahr and Rhine-Palatinate regions, Lorraine in France and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Regiowood II was created to respond to current forestry challenges by analysing the management of 950,000 hectares of private forest and enhancing their management to the benefit of the Greater Region and its natural environment.

"The 600,000 private owners present in the Greater Region account for about 40% of the forested area of the territory,” says Pauline Gillet, Regiowood II project leader at the ASBL RND. “We note that it’s quite a continuous forest that has to respond to the supply needs of a great number of enterprises.”

“However, existing analyses were all based on public forests,” she recalls. “We wanted to make these analyses uniform so that everyone could benefit from the same tool.”

Under Regiowood II, a satellite monitoring system enabling researchers to identify the various types of forests – resinous, leafy and cleared forests - in the Greater Region was established. Satellite imaging was also used during the bark beetle crisis to identify infected acreage and determine the factors that encourage the presence of the beetles.

“We also wanted to document the crisis by talking to representatives of the forest-wood sector and obtaining a tool for use in future crises,” project leader Gillet said.

Regiowood II has produced technical guides for private owners, offers financial incentives aimed at encouraging reforestation and runs an online management platform.

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