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Tag: disturbance

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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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. 

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Resilience: one-off vs continuous disturbance

In an effort to foster a definition of resilience in the forestry field, we decided to establish a series of interviews introducing scientists who deal with this term every day. Today meet Elena Cantarello. She is a lecturer in sustainability science and conducts research on the dynamics and thresholds of ecosystem services at Bournemouth University, e.g. by measuring the resilience of forests in terms of recovery, resistance and net change after climate change, disease outbreak and extensive animal grazing.

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