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Category: Climate change

Key actions needed for resilient forests

In a world facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and growing pressure on natural resources, we rely on resilient forest ecosystems (IPCC 2023) to mitigate these threats and support the well-being of our communities. On the one hand, forests are being increasingly impacted by numerous disturbances including wildfires, windstorms, droughts, and biotic threats. On the other hand, forests play a crucial role in addressing global challenges: they provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, habitat provision, and sustainable livelihoods.

In 2020, former EFI researcher Laura Nikinmaa and her colleagues investigated fostering forest resilience as a key response strategy to address uncertainty stemming from global change. But how can theoretical concepts be translated into practical actions? Based on a systematic review of 255 studies, Nikinmaa et al. (2020) pointed out that the more holistic concept of social-ecological resilience  – which involves enhancing the ability of ecosystems to provide essential services while maintaining human well-being – has not been implemented widely in the practice of forest management because of the lack of clarity in operationalising it. At the same time, policy makers are tasked with devising policies without sound knowledge of the processes that have promoted forest resilience in the recent past. As a result, both policy makers and forest managers lack a broad understanding of whether forests are going to be resilient in the future given the current global trends (Nikinmaa et al. 2020).

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Video: Increase biodiversity to strengthen oak resilience

Climate change and its impacts on forest ecosystems, such as the increase of pests, poses a great threat to oaks. Fortunately, several ecological measures are available to improve oak vitality. Parasitoid insects, for example, are natural antagonists of leave-eating caterpillars and can help control forest pests. In the “Oak Resilience” project, the state agency Wald und Holz NRW investigated parasitoids in selected study areas in North-Rhine Westphalia

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Waldbrände – Wenn der Klimawandel Mensch und Natur bedroht

Waldbrandexperte Alexander Held im Gespräch mit G’Scheitholz! über Waldbrand, Prävention und Bekämpfung

Waldbrände prägen seit Jahrhunderten die mediterranen Landschaften in Südeuropa. Aber auch in Mitteleuropa werden Waldbrände immer häufiger und riskanter. Sowohl Klimawandel als auch Trends in der Landnutzung und Landschaftveränderungen führen weltweit zu extremer Feueraktivität und stellen die verschiedenen Regionen vor neue Herausforderungen.

Die Prävention von Waldbränden müsste noch mehr zur Zielsetzung werden, meint Waldbrandexperte Alexander Held vom European Forest Insitute im Gespräch mit dem österreichischen Klimaschutz-podcast G’Scheitholz!. Zwar können wir nicht alle Feuer verhindern, doch eine gute Prävention kann dafür sorgen, dass die Feuer, die auftreten, beherrschbar bleiben für die Feuerwehr. Das bedeutet beispielsweise die Brandlast, also die Menge an Brennmaterial, an Waldwegen zu reduzieren und mehr Pufferzonen zu schaffen.

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In praise of contrarian thinking

By Sven Wunder, Douglas Sheil & Robert Nasi

Diverging forecasts and climate science

A Danish proverb says: “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future”. More so in a world that seems more uncertain than ever, and where we cannot always rely on the past to infer changes into the future. But how do we societally deal with the inevitable diversity of views about the world’s future? Are we making the best of available intellectual capital to benefit humanity? Or are we, in the name of popular convenience, underutilizing the power of critical reflection and innovative contrarian ideas? Do we need more alternative perspectives to challenge negligent mainstream thinking? These are fundamental questions in addressing major societal crises from global economic imbalances to biodiversity loss, climate change and the approaching tipping points in planetary-wide mechanisms.

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Meet the Integrate Chair 2024!

In a rotating chairmanship, each year, the members of the Integrate Network vote for the chair . This approach provides chair countries, among others, with the initiative to take up relevant topics during their chairmanship and shape the network’s activities. Following Michel Leytem from Luxembourg last year, Georg Frank will chair the Integrate Network in 2024.

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Showcasing Resilience in a cake

Generally, it can be very challenging to communicate recent research advances in an understandable way to the public. To make it a bit sweeter, a bake challenge was held at the University Freiburg where participants were tasked with transforming PhD topics into appetizing creations. RESONATE researcher Julius Willig couldn’t resist the challenge and presented a cake with 2 forest management scenarios.

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New Horizon project WILDCARD reveals contribution of rewilding to EU’s climate and biodiversity goals

All over Europe, nature is making a comeback. As more people move to cities and other land use changes occur, the EU’s forest area is growing, having increased by almost 10% (+14 million hectares) between 1990 and 2020. On top of that, a total of 10-29 million hectares of agricultural land are likely to be abandoned between 2000 and 2030. This leaves potential for native flora, fauna and complex ecosystems to reclaim space, bringing natural ‘rewilding’ to the center of Europe’s environmental policy discussions.

Understanding how rewilding can contribute to solving the climate and biodiversity crises is crucial for the successful implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the EU Nature Restoration Law, and the EU Green Deal – a mission to be tackled by the new Horizon Europe project WILDCARD. Starting in January 2024, the project is, for the first time, systematically assessing the impacts of two major rewilding approaches on carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation at the European scale. Currently, a lack of comprehensive research on the topic prevents rewilding from being fully integrated into Europe’s strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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Preventing megafires and land abandonment in the Mediterranean

The combination of climate change and land abandonment is creating the perfect conditions for forest megafires in the Mediterranean. Higher temperatures, erratic rainfall and longer droughts are becoming increasingly commonplace, as well as claims that megafires “are here to stay”. Still, not all hope is lost. Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) can help prevent fire disasters by reducing the amount of flammable biomass that accumulates in forests, among other adaptation measures.

The INFORMA project’s case study in the Segre-Rialb basin, Spain, is an example of an area that has suffered decades of continuous rural exodus and decurrent lack of forest management. There, the project will equip forest practitioners with insights on how to adapt to increased climate variability while ensuring the provision of important ecosystem services such as water quality and quantity, wood and non-wood forest products, recreation, and biodiversity conservation.

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The Vaia storm five years later – lessons for forests and people

By Alberto Pauletto, FSC Italia

At the end of October 2018, tropical storm Vaia brought heavy rains and winds of up to 200 km/h to Northern Italy, killing 37 people and unleashing damage estimated at almost 5 billion euros. Vaia also affected parts of France, Croatia, Austria, and Switzerland, but Italy sustained the worst forestry destruction in its recent history, with more than 14 million trees felled. The Asiago Oltre Vaia project was an initiative of the Municipality of Asiago  –  with the support of numerous entities such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Italia, Treedom, and the University of Padua  –  designed to draw lessons from the catastrophe to create more resistant and resilient forests for the future.

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