InnoForESt’s approach is to develop and initiate similar policy and business 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. For this purpose, InnoForESt has brought together a consortium of five European universities, seven environmental and forestry agencies, seven NGOs and user group associations, two SMEs, four forest owners and forest owner associations, and five research institutes and networks.
The InnoForESt project is based on six representative case studies. They serve as starting point for establishing networks, innovation development, and upscaling. The case studies represent a range of biogeographical regions of European forests. In addition, they focus on successfully running (and promising) policy and business initiatives (as pioneer innovations) that provide different forest ecosystem services (Table 1).
Table 1. InnoForESt case studies
Initial pioneer innovations
Cultural, biodiversity, timber
Public-private partnership for protected area
Biodiversity, carbon, timber, other ecosystem services
Biodiversity payments and habitat banking
Timber, non-timber products, carbon
Voluntary carbon markets and forest trusts
Water regulation, protection from natural hazards, recreation and nature-based tourism
Carbon common pool regime
Cultural (tourism, recreation, spiritual values)
Incentive-based policies as policy mix with regulations
In each of the six case studies, an innovation platform and network will be established. The platforms are means to share information about pioneer innovations, i.e. what they are, how they function, and the needed framework conditions for them to work. Furthermore, platforms serve to strategically scale up networks, and to prepare their interregional application. Each innovation platform will be dedicated to a particular pioneer innovation and ecosystem service focus, elaborating the potential for improvement and serving as a showcase that demonstrates how niche innovations can be prepared for larger scale implementation. Showcases include promising novel actor alliances and public private partnerships as well as payment schemes and compensation for incentivising carbon storage, water regulation, the protection of biodiversity, the protection against natural hazards, the improvement of landscape aesthetics, and bundles of multiple forest ecosystem services. All elements of the platforms will be designed and implemented in collaboration with InnoForESt’s practice partners. Practice partners represent public policy agencies (regional, state and national forestry and environmental agencies), private forest owners and enterprises, industry partners, environmental NGOs, as well as tourism and hunting associations.
Once the platforms have been set-up, practice partners will make use of the platforms to establish long-term networks. In these networks, pioneers will further develop their existing policy tools and business models. They will share knowledge with other frontrunners and experiment, test, and evaluate additional mechanisms for the provision and financing of forest ecosystem services. Further, collaborations will be established with stakeholders in need of capacity development to identify and implement similar models in their regions and fields of activities. In order to achieve a broad impact, the project will engage an extensive set of (associate) practice partners that act as multipliers and catalysts. The networks will originate locally in each of the six case study regions and iteratively become connected and up-scaled to national and European level stakeholders. In this way, partners with further ideas and cases for forest ecosystem service provision are included for knowledge sharing.
Experiences gained with innovation development and functioning shall be systematically processed into tailor made roadmaps and recommendations which function as navigators for different stakeholder target groups, in particular policy makers on a regional, national, and EU level, as well as local and regional land-use decision makers such as forest owners and nature protection authorities, business actors, and societal stakeholder groups including tourism, hunting, and local communities.
InnoForESt has established four specific objectives that further concretise the call objectives.
This will result in future sustainable provision of forest ecosystem services.
InnoForESt will synthesise the elements of a large and – so far – disparate body of information on forest ecosystem services. It will merge European and national level information on forest ecosystem conditions and services by building particularly on ongoing MAES activities. This includes mapping activities, but also relevant regulations, policy documents, and expert knowledge on forest ecosystem services. Further, InnoForESt will scan policy and business niches that have emerged from traditional technological and business innovations, non-timber forest products, and bio-economy opportunities, as well as new policy types, including payments schemes for forest carbon and watershed services, no-net loss and habitat banking, and cooperative approaches. Together these will form the knowledge basis for the digital component of the innovation platforms.
Understanding the role of the biophysical conditions of forest ecosystems, as well as the institutional context in which policy instrument mixes and business models evolve, is critical for successful implementation of novel solutions. To increase the understanding of these contextual biophysical and institutional conditions and their interplay, InnoForESt shall first develop a social-ecological-technical and institutional analysis framework. This will then be applied to the specific setting within the six case studies. This will produce insights into fostering and hindering factors decisive for the development and impacts of innovations. Behavioural economic experiments will be carried out to test the acceptance of new factor combinations in the case study settings. Experiments serve to identify the most resilient combinations of innovations and context conditions. Most promising prototypes will be fed back into innovation platforms for preparing their implementation and/or upscaling.
The six case studies serve as starting points for the formation of regional, national, and European network initiatives and the mainstreaming of innovations. In case study regions, innovation platforms will be established to serve as multiplier for dedicated innovation action, as a means for network establishment, and as a hub for knowledge exchange and learning. An initial network will be set up by the coordination team consisting both of actors that have experiences with innovations and others that have not - but are interested in them. Through regular (and orchestrated) stakeholder interactions, innovations are to be created, analysed, discussed, and adapted according to stakeholder demands and contextual conditions. Possibilities for new alliances and collaboration are to be explored. What starts on the local/regional level within an innovation platform will iteratively be extended to national scope and scale up to the European level.
InnoForESt will demonstrate the successful implementation of governance innovations in real world contexts. The six selected case study regions represent a wide range of European forest ecosystems and institutional landscapes. A systematic comparison of implementation activities in terms of outcomes, impacts, and lessons learned will be synthesised in sets of policy and business recommendations for forest managers, policy makers, businesses, and NGOs, from the local and regional to the national and EU level. InnoForESt will not only provide practical insights into strategic partnership formation but also the inclusion of key stakeholders, the concrete design of compensation and payment schemes, as well as fostering and hindering factors.