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Best practice for forest disturbance management in Europe

From storm events to megafires, from drought to bark beetle damage – with intensified forest disturbance regimes during the last decades we have learned that if we want to mitigate forest risks and prevent negative impacts, we cannot only focus on emergency response and recovery. Thus, preventing disturbances and making forests more resilient has significantly gained in importance along with the insight that we need to learn how to live with intensified disturbances. In the past three years, several networking activities and events as well as fast track sharing of experiences and knowledge during forest related risks crisis have been organized in the framework of the project SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forests (SURE). These activities were aiming at promoting and further developing a European Forest Risk Facility, an evolving knowledge hub consisting of several organisations and experts from all over Europe, coming from the fields of academia, forest practice and risk management, policy and society. After three years (2017-2020) of fruitful activities within SURE, the project reached an end, and we use this opportunity to look back, reflect upon and summarize our work.

Those who are interested in an overview of all the events and activities that took place within the project are invited to check out the record of activities on our website.

Moreover, the latest outputs that were already presented during our final conference in August 2020 are now available online. First, the tool compendium was compiled as an open platform documenting all the learned lessons across Europe collected during the SURE project. Second, we created a map of forest risk management actors, describing the existing responsibilities and disturbance risk governance structures in several European countries. 

The Tool Compendium

Overview of the Tool Compendium Browser

As large disturbances are rarely reoccurring in the same place in the life time of a forester, local expertise is often insufficient. Additionally, existing knowledge for practical forest disturbance crisis management is scattered around Europe in local languages. Language barriers and limited distribution of application create low accessibility for tools and best practices. Even if tools are available, there is limited information about which tools are the best for specific situations and how they are used. Within the SURE project, thanks to the collaboration with participants of the European Forest Risk Facility network, a searchable online tool compendium was developed with a user-friendly interface. The tool compendium is a database of management activities, communication and networking tools, as well as local knowledge collected during the SURE project. The purpose of this compendium is to help decision makers to see, what available practices for forest disturbance management exists in Europe and if they could be applied to the challenges, they are facing.

Development of the Tool Compendium

The SURE project organized three different workshops gathering experts in windstorm, wildfire, and biotic risks from different parts of Europe. The participants came from research, practice and policy. Before each workshop, the participants were asked to provide existing best practices from their countries, documented in a tool template. During the workshops, the experts discussed the challenges in forest risk management, best practices as well as knowledge gaps and completed additional tool templates to describe tools and approaches.

How to use the Tool Compendium?

Template distributed to collect lessons learned in risk management

Users can select types of tools they are interested in, based on disturbance type, country of interest, region, level of application (forest, enterprise, and policy), and phase of the risk management cycle (prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery). More than 70 tools are now available in the compendium. All of the tools can be downloaded freely. Each of the tools includes the contact information of the tool author who can be contacted in case of questions. 

For instance, readers interested in wind disturbance can consult the compendium to see how other countries manage storm damage in a forest stand. By selecting the appropriate parameters, they obtain a list of documents, as shown in the picture above, with operational, financial, advisory, or communication tools. When clicking on the title, the tool gets downloaded as a Word document, and a detailed description of the tool can be found.

After three years (2017-2020) of networking, learning and capacity building interactions between science, policy and practice the SURE project reached an end. You can always consult the project tasks and activities on our website. We would like to thank all our partners for the fruitful collaboration and great support.

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