By Matteo Cerioni, Gal Fidej, Patrick Vallet, Marcus Lindner & Gesche Schifferdecker
After seeing thousands of hectares of spruce forest die after disturbances all over Europe in the past years, it seems like spruce is our problem child – at least in Central and Eastern Europe. Spruce died in monocultures, but was also more affected than other species by e.g. storm and bark beetle damages in mixed forest stands. This had and still has both significant ecological as well as financial impacts because spruce is an economically important species.
When looking at the future – and the increased forest disturbances we can expect due to climate change – it is crucial to find out how forests recover after being damaged. Looking at different forest areas in Slovenia hit by severe disturbances, a group of researchers from the Department for Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources at University of Ljubljana focused on the following questions: How do mixed forests with varying share of spruce recover after ice storms, bark beetle damage, and windthrow? Which regeneration characteristics are useful to assess the forest recovery? And how does forest management influence both the impact of disturbances as well as the regeneration process?