Resilient Planted Forests Serving Society & Bioeconomy
The growth rate at which planted forests increase in area is expected to not only remain positive but strongly increase over the coming decades due to the role the UNFCCC Paris Agreement is foreseeing for forests as climate change mitigation tool. Thus, main driving forces are the renewed understanding of forest plantations being renewable mechanisms to create carbon sinks, an increasing demand for wood fibres, and established mechanisms to employ forest plantations for restoring degraded areas. Bio-refineries and popularity of wooden buildings will also contribute to the expansion of plantations. Increasing the productivity of forest plantations up to maximum growth capacity levels while preserving their resilience to natural and anthropogenic disturbances such as forest fires will also push researchers to new monitoring recommendations and to the development of new silvicultural approaches, like precision management or species diversification. All these aspects justify the creation of a task force that operates coordinating an extensive network of researchers, well integrated and compromised with upcoming events sponsored by IUFRO (World Conference in 2019) and its expected outcomes. This task force is also in line with the conclusions of the fourth International Congress on Planted Forests  (2018) and the setup of a new definition of plantation by FAO  for the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020. The Congress noted that planted forests are still as important for wood production as for their protection function combining both in most cases. This evidence is as yet not always perceived by society, so the task force aims to address some of the main challenges identified during the congress, and not addressed by the previous task forces:
1. Bring science-based evidence and support dialogue areas on how planted forest can serve societies providing multiple ecosystem services and social services
2. Demonstrate how such planted forest can contribute to bioeconomy and a carbon free future society
3. Propose and exchange of best management and genetic practices to improve the resilience of rural landscapes with planted forests
The specification for a task force is not only to facilitate cooperation between IUFRO divisions but also to address some societal challenges associated with planted forests involving diverse kinds of organizations.
The topic of planted forests in many countries is associated with rural development, and FAO is a key organization to bring knowledge of the governance and specific issues associated to plantation on this topic; in addition, the FAO representative is also coordinating the International Poplar Commission, http://www.fao.org/forestry/ipc/en/, bringing expertise of a key species in plantations.
Due to post-colonial histories or to the urbanization of the society, there is increasing controversy and characteristic focus on the potential negative impacts of plantations. Combination of science with NGO's, private and public sectors on social dialogue, such as the New Generation Plantations Platform, https://newgenerationplantations.org, is an asset to the Task Force in assessing information objectively and identifying the risks associated with real practices.
• main contribution to theme 3 "forests and forest products for a greener future": as forest-based industries rely increasingly on planted forest resources for their supply (45 % globally), the task force will explore the implications for the sustainability and viability of planted forests in the context of changing climates, the increasing demand for forest products from a growing global population and the emerging markets of the bioeconomy.
• contribution to specific emphasis areas of other themes:
• forest for people > forest governance
• climate change > mitigation through sustainable intensification and adaptation strategies
• biodiversity > ecosystem services and Contribution of restoration to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services
• forest, soils and water > land management and regional water cycle
• direct contributions to the 3 institutional goals:
• research excellence > improve capacities for science collaboration
• network cooperation > enhance overall communication
• policy impact > participation in the policy process
The task force will facilitate cross-divisional interactions via the organisation of focused sessions and the joint preparation of documents covering cross-cutting themes which go beyond the scope of divisional units, as demonstrated by the list of task force members.
The task force will contribute to the European policy on planted forest as the Science to policy document produced for THINKFOREST will be presented to the European parliament in December to inform policy makers about its main messages.
It will also benefit from the support of the New Generation Plantations platform to increase its visibility and update research needs from practitioner interactions worldwide.
Participation of FAO in the group facilitate the knowledge exchange between the global processes related to Development goals policy and task force actions, in addition the planted forest officer of FAO is also involved in the international poplar association.
EFI will manage the secretariat, but being a dual structure between research and policy support, it will also contribute to increasing political impact.