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Category: Forest Resilience

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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Resilience of European temperate forests to large and severe disturbances – what have we learned from a continental-scale network of regeneration inventories?

As a result of anthropogenic climate change, forest disturbance regimes are also changing, with individual disturbances often becoming larger and more severe. This may slow down the forest recovery process, or in worst cases, especially under a warmer and drier climate, lead to strong shifts in ecosystem dynamics, or in other words: a loss of forest resilience. Though numerous case studies have examined post-disturbance regeneration in Europe, it’s less clear if we can generalize broad patterns of forest recovery across European temperate forests subjected to large and severe disturbances caused by different agents.

A team of forest researchers from the University of Ljubljana, leveraging the networks created under the European projects I-MAESTRO and FORECO, joined forces with several research institutes across Europe to put together numerous ground-based inventories of regeneration after large and severe disturbances in European temperate forests. The goal was to achieve a more robust understanding on their resilience. We aimed at identifying the main environmental drivers affecting resilience, and how people should manage disturbed forests to support the recovery of their pre-disturbance structure and functionalities.

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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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„10 Must-Knows” als Wegweiser für mehr Biodiversität

Neuer Policy Report mit Kapitel zum Erhalt von Biodiversität und vielfältiger Waldnutzung 

Von der noch unentdeckten Artenvielfalt über widerstandsfähige Wälder bis zu den Auswirkungen des Lebensmittelkonsums auf die Natur: 64 Expertinnen und Experten haben jetzt ihr Wissen und ihre Empfehlungen gebündelt und in Form von „10 Must-Knows aus der Biodiversitätsforschung“ für 2024 veröffentlicht. Der neue Bericht des Leibniz-Forschungsnetzwerks Biodiversität zeigt Politik und Gesellschaft konkrete Wege auf, wie die biologische Vielfalt in Deutschland auf lokaler, nationaler und europäischer Ebene wirksam erhalten und nachhaltig genutzt werden kann, und wie sich dadurch zugleich das Klima schützen lässt. Eines der 10 Must-Knows Kapitel bezieht sich dabei auch konkret auf den Umgang mit unseren Wäldern. Mit der Veröffentlichung steuern die Forschenden aktuelle, wissenschaftliche Fakten zur Debatte um die nationale Biodiversitätsstrategie bei, die noch vor der nächsten Weltnaturkonferenz (CBD COP 15) im Herbst 2024 verabschiedet werden soll.

Nach der großen Resonanz auf die 2022 erstmals veröffentlichten „10 Must-Knows aus der Biodiversitätsforschung“ haben jetzt Forschende aus insgesamt 52 deutschen und internationalen Forschungseinrichtungen – einschließlich des European Forest Institutes – ihre Expertise aus den Umwelt-, Lebens-, Raum-, Sozial-, Geistes- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften in die Neufassung eingebracht. „Bereits heute überschreiten wir planetare Belastungsgrenzen, sowohl bei der globalen Erwärmung als auch beim Verlust biologischer Vielfalt. Um diesen Krisen zu begegnen, braucht es gemeinsame Antworten. Wir wissen, dass der Schutz der Biodiversität wesentlich dazu beitragen kann, den Klimawandel abzuschwächen, etwa durch artenreiche Wälder und wiedervernässte Moore, die Kohlenstoff speichern. Nur wenn Maßnahmen zum Schutz der Biodiversität stärker in den Fokus rücken, kann es gelingen, gegen beide Krisen zugleich vorzugehen“, sagt Dr. Kirsten Thonicke, Leitautorin und stellvertretende Abteilungsleiterin am Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK), die das Forschungsnetzwerk koordiniert. 

Auch das European Forest Institute in Bonn steuert mit Forschungserkenntnissen zu Waldbewirtschaftung und Biodiversitätsschutz zu dieser Neufassung bei. In Kapitel 5 „Vielfältige Nutzung von Waldökosystemen und Biodiversitätschutz in Einklang bringen”, erläutern 7 Wissenschaftler*innen aus 5 verschiedenen Institutionen, darunter Leitautor Mats Nieberg und Ko-autor*innen Trishna Dutta und Andreas Schuck vom European Forest Institute, wie unterschiedliche Bedürfnisse und Anforderungen an Wälder integriert werden können.

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How do you do – forest?

“How do you do?” is a daily way for Lônders in my village of Overloon to greet each other or to start a chat. Usually the quick answer is: “Good.” If the emphasis on the question is slightly different, then there appears to be real interest in how the other person is doing. And usually there is, as they say, ‘some prior knowledge’.

I am regularly asked how the forests around Overloon or in the Netherlands or Europe are doing and the answer then, is not that simple. To answer this, a so-called forest inventory has been carried out in most European countries since the 1980s and in some countries since the 1920s. During a forest inventory, a sampling schedule is overlaid on the map of the entire forest in a country. This is a regular grid with one point every kilometer. A field team goes to each point every 5 years and measures, among other things, the diameter of all trees and the height of some. All kinds of other things are also measured, but for now it’s just about the trees. The Netherlands also has such a forest inventory of more than 3,000 points. It is an extremely small sample of Dutch forests of some 0.03% of all trees which are measured.

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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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Forests do not end at national borders – how can united knowledge help Europe’s forests?

This is a report made by three representatives from the International Forestry Students’ Association during their voluntary work for the HLPD 2023 organization.

On November 9, government representatives and practitioners from all over Europe came together in Berlin for the second FOREST EUROPE High-Level Talks to address one question: How can sustainable forest management help make Europe’s forests more resilient to the consequences of climate change?

For those who don’t know, FOREST EUROPE is a pan-European forest policy process at the ministerial level in which guidelines, criteria, and indicators of sustainable forest management are developed. And we had the opportunity to be the youth representatives.

What have we seen? What are the bullet points we, the Youth, take from this day full of panel discussions? This is our perspective on the topic of „growing healthier forests“ and the efforts the government representatives make in their countries.

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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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