New project to strengthen primary and old-growth forest protection in Europe

Between January 2021-2024, 15 beneficiaries from a total of 8 European countries are putting their knowledge and experience in primary and old-growth forest protection together within the project ‘LIFE PROGNOSES: LIFE PRotection of Old Growth Forests in Europe: Natural heritage, Outline, Synthesis and Ecosystem Services’. 

Capitalising on World Heritage sites

Each of the participating eight countries contain – or will contain in the future – one or more UNESCO World Heritage Beech Forests in their territory. Therefore the goal of LIFE Prognoses is to strengthen primary and old growth forest protection in Europe by capitalising these specific World Heritage sites. 

The project builds on the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe’. The positive attitude towards the Natural World Heritage and the strictly protected forest ecosystems shall be used to strengthen the protection and recognition of old growth forests in Europe. 

Project partnership

The partnership consists of the coordinating beneficiary, Sonian Forest Foundation, as well as associated beneficiaries from 8 countries:

ATE.C.O. Institute of Ecology (ECO), Joanneum Research (JORE), Kalkalpen National Park (NPKA)
BEINBO Research Institute Nature and Forest (INBO)
BGCentral Balkan National Park (NPCB)
CZCzech University of Life Sciences (CULS)
DECity of Angermünde (CANG), Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (UNIE)
ITAbruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park (NPAB), University of Tuscia (UNITUS)
SIMinistry of the Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP), University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty (UL)
UACarpathian Biosphere Reserve (CBR)

Objectives of the project

Primary and old-growth forests in Europe are irreplaceable in harbouring biological diversity and are greatly important related to many other ecological aspects, underlined by the European Biodiversity Strategy 2030. The strategy clearly states the crucial demand to define, map, monitor and strictly protect all the EU’s remaining primary and old growth forests. The project therefore focuses on the following objectives: 

  1. Development of criteria and methods to assess and map old-growth forests in Europe 

The remaining areas of primary and old growth forests within the EU have not yet been mapped fully and in a consistent way. The objective is to develop a robust methodological approach to assess and map primary and old-growth forests and apply the method in-situ on a representative set of old-growth forest in the EU. This component shall contribute to an EU-wide assessment and mapping of primary and old-growth forests. The components of the World Heritage property cover the full range of beech forest types in Europe and include both primary old-growth and developing (secondary) old-growth forests.

2. The valuation of ecosystem services of primary and old growth forests

The value of ecosystem services of primary and old-growth forests still requires further clarification. That is why it is necessary to identify and quantify ecosystem services such as carbon storage, biodiversity, micro- and meso-climatic impact, the potential for recreation, and the creation of green jobs (e.g. ecotourism) on a selected set of sites. These methods and results can then be applied and extrapolated to other old-growth forests all over Europe.

3. Awareness raising to strengthen conservation of old growth forests

There is a high need to raise awareness at various levels and in different sectors on the outstanding values of remaining primary and old growth forests in Europe. But also on the needed actions to be taken for their conservation. Awareness will be raised through a well thought-out, targeted and elaborate communication about the importance and benefits of conservation of old growth forest and to mainstream their ecosystem services. This communication must appeal to local stakeholders and communities, ONG’s, experts and policy makers, but also the general public alike. 

For more information, visit: