The forests of the Greater Region cover around 2,375,000 hectares of land, so over a third of its territory: they are of major economic importance. The region has been aware of the need for sustainable management for a long time. Significant economic activity has developed in relation to the forested areas: its social function (in terms of recreation and landscape) has been frequently asserted and its environmental advantages (flora and fauna, earth, water, etc.) heavily promoted. Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Wallonia and the French Lorraine region have a duty to preserve their forest capital.
However, forest management lies in the hands of hundreds of thousands of different owners, both public and private. The understanding of forest management differs enormously between public forest owners, backed by a support structure specifically aimed at forest management (Office National des Forêts, Département de la Nature et des Forêts, Landesforsten Rheinland-Pfalz, SaarForst, Administration de la Nature et des Forêts), and private forest owners. For the latter, their forest heritage will be of varying significance to them and the interest that it represents will depend on individual aspirations.
The total budget for the Regiowood II project amounts to €4,260,430.92, funded by Europe (FEDER 60%), and the Wallonia region (30%) and by other stakeholder partners in the project (10%).
In the current context which is characterised by a high demand for timber on the part of economic operators, there is a lot of tree felling taking place in the Greater Region’s forests. In itself, this is nothing to worry about as the softwood plantations, largely planted in the wake of World War II have now reached maturity. It is quite normal that they should be exploited, but subsequent replanting after felling is essential to guarantee the sustainable management of our forests. In terms of hardwoods, the rotation of species takes much longer, especially as there is currently less demand, but the rebuilding of our ttimber capital is also a shared concern. Hardwoods are reaching old age and it is essential that thought is given to their future right now, anticipating their regeneration and supporting it in the best way possible, taking account of uncertainties such as global warming and the impact caused by forest animals.
Timescales in forestry are very long. However, if plans are not put into place in plenty of time, the price we will pay in the future will be a lack of materials, the impoverishment of the forest’s multifunctionality and a profound failure in meeting the principles of sustainable development. In fact, climate problems, increasing air, soil and water pollution, the impact of the financial crisis on forest investments, the cross-cutting impacts from forest animals and environmental issues are concerns common to all areas of the Greater Region.
A cross-border initiative was created to provide a response: the INTERREG VA Greater Region Regiowood II project. To tackle today's challenges, the members of the Regiowood II team will focus on setting up monitoring tools and compiling the silviculture knowledge required to enhance sustainable management of private forests, to the profit of the Greater Region and its natural heritage as a whole.
With this in mind, twelve organisations from the forestry sector, supported by 5 other Belgian, German, Luxembourg and French partners have joined forces to make this project happen. As a result, from 2017 to 2019 a number of activities will be rolled out in the Greater Region territory on different themes: forest monitoring, forest renewal contract, sustainable management tools et forest resilience.
- 11 partners from 4 different countries (Germany, Belgium, France, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) coordinated by RND, the project leader.
- A 3-year project (from January 2017 to December 2019).
- A budget of €4,260,430.92.
- 4 areas of action.