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Tag: climate change

The invisible workforce: seasonal migration in the forest sector 

They help farmers to pick asparagus and support foresters with salvage-cutting bark-beetle damaged trees: The EU – and especially countries like Spain, Poland and Germany – is heavily dependent on so called “seasonal migrants”, either from other EU Member States or third world countries. Bringing the issue closer to home, Germany receives around 300,000 workers per year for agricultural, horticultural and forestry work, many of them from Central and Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Romania. Very often, they remain invisible. We asked ourselves, how many of these workers can we specifically find in the forest sector? What roles do they play and how can these be distinguished from the agricultural sector? How are the working conditions? And what can we do to make this issue more visible?  

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How can the EU double its forests’ climate change mitigation impact by 2050? New Horizon Europe project INFORMA to provide answers

Forests can act as carbon sinks or emitters, as made clear by this summer’s catastrophic forest fires that ravaged southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula. The devastating events following August’s record heatwave resulted in Europe’s highest wildfire emissions in 15 years. Only in the region of Valencia, Spain, the fires released more than 1 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual emissions of all private cars in the three capital cities of the province: Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.

Although climate change played a major role in the catastrophe, the fires were aggravated by rural exodus, which led to the abandonment of forest management in the area and to the accumulation of flammable vegetation, explains José Vicente Oliver, professor at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV).

In cooperation with EFI, Oliver and his team are looking for ways to prepare the EU’s forests for future climate scenarios and realise their full carbon absorption potential by mainstreaming Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) into more conventional management practices. In the new Horizon Europe project INFORMA, EFI, UPV and other partners are tackling crucial questions around SFM that remain partially unanswered by science, unaddressed by policies and unexplored by most carbon offsetting schemes. How can we manage existing forests in different European biogeographic regions for enhanced carbon capture while ensuring the provision of other ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation and wood production? Where and how should we grow new forests, and which species should be used? How can we adapt and increase forests’ resilience to more frequent disturbances such as drought, fires, windstorms and pests?

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Sustaining cities, naturally – across 3 continents

The role of cities in the light of the health of people and the planet alike, is undeniably crucial. While cities only make up about 2% of terrestrial areas, more than 50% of the World’s population is already living in cities (Pincetl, 2017). This trend of urbanization is expected to continue to grow into a staggering 65% of the world population living in cities by 2040 (weforum, 2019).  

While poorly planned urbanization can lead to societal challenges such as social deprivation, climate change, deteriorating health and increasing pressure on urban nature, urban ecosystem restoration can contribute to lessen these challenges, through for example implementing nature-based solutions (NBS). Research by the ISGlobal drastically illustrated this: An increase in overall greenness in cities could prevent up to almost 43.000 deaths in European cities every year (ISGlobal, 2021).
On Thursday and Friday, the 13th and 14th of October the webinar “Sustaining Cities, Naturally” focused precisely on these topics: NBS and urban ecosystem restoration. The webinar was jointly organized by four Horizon 2020 projects: INTERLACECONEXUSREGREEN and CLEARING HOUSE as an official side-event of the The European Week of Regions and Cities 2022. By bringing together cities, regions and local authorities, city network representatives, policy makers, researchers, civil society and experts on NBS and urban ecosystem restoration, the webinar was a showcase example of international cooperation in knowledge creation and exchange. With a total of 333 participants on Thursday and 571 on Friday as well as 29 speakers, NBS and urban ecosystems restoration in Europe, China and Latin America were discussed in depth and from various perspectives.  

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“Forest restoration needs to look ahead, not backwards, in face of climate change”: An interview with SUPERB coordinator Elisabeth Pötzelsberger on World Habitat Day

This 3rd of October is World Habitat Day! To celebrate the occasion, Elisabeth Pötzelsberger, Head of Resilience Programme at the European Forest Institute (EFI) and coordinator of the SUPERB project, explained the importance of “prestoration” – the combination of restoration and climate adaptation – for resilient and functional forest habitats. She discussed how it differs from classical restoration approaches, highlighted its relevance to the new EU Nature Restoration Law and listed concrete examples of how prestoration is being applied within the SUPERB demonstration areas in Germany and in the Czech Republic.

Watch the video interview on YouTube or read it below!

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What if digital art and augmented reality could bring us closer to the forests?

by Beatrice Bellavia

Can you evoke the typical scent of a forest? Close your eyes and imagine walking down a path of needles, that is all it takes. But did you know that trees are not only oxygen generators – but produce large amounts of volatile organic compounds?  It is basically as if they were breathing, and this is precisely where the unmistakable forest smell comes from. 

Recently, I have experienced how trees breath – but guess what: not in the forest, but in a museum. It happened when I approached the immersive installation „ATMOSPHERIC FOREST“. In this installation, thanks to the augmented reality technology, I was able to navigate through the „breathing“ trees of the Swiss forest of Pfynwald.  I watched the forest from the bottom up, followed the path through the tree trunk until it brought the eye far up above the trees – yes, like a bird.

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Wrangling resilience from concept to forest management application

Record breaking temperatures, minimal rainfall, drying rivers and burning forests. The news from this summer show how acutely the warming climate is affecting our environment and lives. To me, the damages to forests due to fires, drought and insect outbreaks are particularly worrisome as we as a society are counting on forests to sequester our carbon emissions, to replace the fossil fuel products and to foster biodiversity that is rapidly declining. This concern on the capacity of forests to cope with increased disturbances started years ago and led me to pursue a PhD on forest resilience and how it could be improved with forest management. Now it is time to summarise my work from the last four years.

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How we can better understand our forest ecosystems with laser scanning

by Luiza Tyminska and Jean-Matthieu Monnet

If you want to investigate the influence of management on forest resilience after disturbances, you can of course put your walking shoes on and do field measurements. However, how can you evaluate forest areas of several hundreds of square kilometers? In forest science, we consider Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) a strong solution for mapping forest characteristics – including forests’ internal structure – at high resolution over wide areas. ALS is a remote sensing technology based on the emission of laser pulses. The laser light can penetrate the tree canopy and reflect on objects located inside the forest, or even by the ground. The Earth’s surface is then modelled as point clouds in three dimensions with geometric information on the height of the vegetation, but also on its internal structure. In the project Innovative forest management strategies for a resilient bioeconomy under climate change and disturbances (I-MAESTRO), we used ALS for two purposes: describing the forests to get an initial state for simulations, and analysing forest dynamics with repeated measurements.

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Expecting the unexpected: how to manage forest landscapes in a highly uncertain future?

In past blog posts we have been discussing how forest landscapes can be seen as interconnected and functional complex networks – and shown how network analysis can be combined with modelling and forest management. But is the so-called functional network approach really an efficient way to optimize forest landscape management and to promote ecological resilience in the face of unexpected global change stresses?

When we go hiking in the mountains, we know that before reaching an appealing and gratifying view we often need to walk up a few hundred meters inside a forest. Sounds natural, it has always been this way. We have cities, crop fields, grasslands, forests, rocky mountain peaks, etc. Forests are intrinsically part of our cultural landscape, and it is normal to think they will always be. Although such landscapes look simple, when we disentangle each single element, we realise that it is a very complex socio-ecological network, with both human and biophysical processes linked across different spatial and temporal scales.

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