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Tag: ecology

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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“Oak Resilience”: investigating ecological measures to combat oak decline

Oaks can live up to a thousand years and grow to trees of impressive magnitude. They are of great importance, economically and ecologically. Oak wood is hard and resistant and provides a valuable resource for the market. And with over a thousand species of beetles, butterflies, birds and bats, fungi and more living on oaks, these trees are a real biodiversity hotspot.

Since the mid-1980s, however, the condition of oaks in Europe has deteriorated dramatically. This is due to an interaction of climatic extremes, such as drought or late frost, herbivorous insects and mildew. Among these stress factors, insect damage by early defoliators is of particular importance. Oaks generally show a strong ability for regeneration and can regrow their foliation even after complete defoliation. However, if severe defoliation in spring occurs repeatedly or in combination with a second stressor, the oaks’ energy reserves cannot be restored and the tree is lost.

The critical question is: how can we make oaks more resilient? And are there ecological means to combat oak decline? In Germany, committed people from forestry practice and science have joined forces to find solutions. The project “Oak Resilience” investigates the resilience of the native pedunculate oak and sessile oak and looks into predatory parasites –called parasitoids­– of the most important early defoliators in oaks, the winter moth Operophtera brumata, the mottled umber moth Erannis defoliaria and the oak leafroller moth Tortrix viridana. Parasitoid insects are natural antagonists of defoliating insects and are an important regulatory force in the ecosystem. The project will develop recommendations for silvicultural measures to support these natural regulating forces in order to strengthen the oak’s vitality and forest resilience in general. The project is led by Wald und Holz NRW and funded by the FNR (Agency for Renewable Resources; FKZ 22017517). Watch this video to get an introduction to the project – and check our Resilience blog for upcoming project results in 2023.

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Europe’s primary forests: What to protect? What to restore?

First international assessment of the protection state of mostly ‘untouched’ forests in Europe

Halle/Berlin. An expansion of the protected areas by only about 1% would sufficiently protect most remaining primary forests in Europe. This is one of the main results of the study on Protection gaps and restoration opportunities for primary forests in Europe conducted by an international team led by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU). The study, published in the paper Diversity and Distribution, is the first assessment of the conservation status of Europe’s primary forests. It identifies protection gaps and areas with restoration needs to reach conservation targets. In addition, it provides valuable information how to implement the new EU Biodiversity Strategy.

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