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Tag: ecosystem

ResAlliance as an integrated approach to landscape management

In this interview, David Martín, Project Manager at Pau Costa Foundation, explains the organisation’s role in the EU-funded ResAlliance project and gives his own point of view on some aspects of landscape resilience in the Mediterranean.

A key feature of ResAlliance is the LandLabs. These are programmes of activities and networking platforms in five Mediterranean regions that seek to engage farmers and foresters with a variety of stakeholders and practices in landscape management so that they can gain insight into innovative solutions. David Martín and Mariona Borràs, from the Fundació Pau Costa (Pau Costa Foundation, PCF), are Resilience Ambassadors of the LandLab in Catalonia and the general coordinators of all five LandLabs.

David Martín has been working at PCF since 2019. Educated in environmental science and biodiversity conservation, he became involved in the wildfire domain after working as a volunteer looking into the impact of wildfires in Lithuania in 2011.  After this, he worked as a consultant in Spain and a researcher at the University of Greenwich, in the UK. He remembers his time doing research as very fruitful for his career. In fact, it allowed him to develop his current role as Project Manager. Now, he is mainly involved in European Union-funded projects and exploring the potential to address biodiversity and conservation criteria in more holistic wildfire risk management. 

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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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Experiencing an excursion through the eyes of a forest modeler 

For the RESONATE project, my task aims at developing high resolution future forest trajectories and disturbance maps for the European continent. Continental scale modelling always comes along with trade-offs regarding the detailed processes. Taking this into account, we follow a bottom-up approach, where we use detailed information from local process-based forest simulations to train deep neural networks. For this, we collected forest simulations under different climate scenarios from hundreds of locations across Europe, covering large gradients of environmental and climatic conditions. By combining simulations from different regions, we can explore the relationship between forest dynamics and climate signals using deep neural networks. These neural networks learn to represent forest dynamics depending on environmental and climate conditions, allowing us to upscale the forest dynamics to continental scale. We believe that with this approach we will make a step towards better capturing local scale dynamics at the macroscale.  

But guess what, forest modeling means we spend most of the time in front of our screen, working on code and data that eventually allow a glimpse into the future of forest ecosystems. Although I spend a lot of my leisure time hiking, cycling and sometimes ski touring in the mountains, professionally I spend very little time in the field. Therefore, I was really happy to join the excursion as part of a conference we organized in Berchtesgaden some months ago. The occasion to go to the field with colleagues who spend a lot of time there and visit the system that I am currently modelling is very special and of course informative. And for me, coming from a macroecology background, it is also particularly important to see gradients in the mountain landscape and discuss their impact on vegetation processes as well as disturbances.

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Talking through research landscapes

Reflections on inter-generational interactions in science and the potential of young scientists 

Imagine you are sitting in a room full of people for three days. Listening to a lot of presentations which do not necessarily light up your interests. You make the effort to resist the temptation of checking your mailbox. Feeling guilty for seeing work accumulating, knowing you will have to address part of it at night, alone in your hotel room. Eventually, you will be presenting your work and – if you are lucky – have an awesome 20 minutes of lit discussion and feedback. But after that, you will rely on coffee again to fight back the gravity attacking your eyelids, especially in the post-lunch sessions. You will be looking forward for the drinks at the end of the day to socialize a bit and get to know people. 

In my short, young scientist’s experience, that’s how I’ve portraited – and experienced – scientific conferences. 

A (much needed) alternative 

Well, the latest conference I attended was absolutely nothing of the above. 

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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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Ecosystems are a lot more resilient than they have given them credit for in the past”

An Interview with Klaus J. Puettmann, Professor, Forests Ecosystems & Society, Oregon State University

Forests are among our planet’s most important human life-supporting ecosystems, and we have many expectations with regards to the ecosystem services they provide. But: How do major global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss affect forests globally, and what can forest governance and management do? How can we deal with rising and changing demands for forest products and ecosystem services due to global population and economic growth, and urbanization?   

In order to discuss these questions, the conference “Governing and managing forests for multiple ecosystem services” brought together policymakers, practitioners and academic researchers from different fields on 26-28 February in Bonn. During this event, EFI in collaboration with the documentary filmmaker Patrick Augenstein, interviewed Klaus J. Puettmann, Professor, Forests Ecosystems & Society, Oregon State University.

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“Political commitments are not enough”

An Interview with Eva Müller, Director General, Forests, Sustainability and Renewable Resources, BMEL

Forests are among our planet’s most important human life-supporting ecosystems, and we have many expectations with regards to the ecosystem services they provide. But: How do major global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss affect forests globally, and what can forest governance and management do? How can we deal with rising and changing demands for forest products and ecosystem services due to global population and economic growth, and urbanization?   

In order to discuss these questions, the conference “Governing and managing forests for multiple ecosystem services” brought together policymakers, practitioners and academic researchers from different fields on 26-28 February in Bonn. During this event, EFI in collaboration with the documentary filmmaker Patrick Augenstein, interviewed Eva Müller, Director General, Forests, Sustainability and Renewable Resources at the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

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“If we want a sustainable future, the ecosystem needs it as well”

An interview with Pierre Ibisch, professor for Nature Conservation

Forests are among our planet’s most important human life-supporting ecosystems, and we have many expectations with regards to the ecosystem services they provide. But: How do major global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss affect forests globally, and what can forest governance and management do? How can we deal with rising and changing demands for forest products and ecosystem services due to global population and economic growth, and urbanization?   

In order to discuss these questions, the conference “Governing and managing forests for multiple ecosystem services” brought together policymakers, practitioners and academic researchers from different fields on 26-28 February in Bonn. During this event, EFI in collaboration with the documentary filmmaker Patrick Augenstein, interviewed Pierre Ibisch, Professor for Nature Conservation at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development. 

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The Battle for Forest Biodiversity is Equipped with Explosives, Bullets and Chainsaws

Peaceful, tranquil, calm, still: these are all adjectives we might use to describe a walk in the forest. However, the forests we walk in may not always be the picture of serenity we imagine them to be. Behind the scenes some foresters are igniting explosives, firing guns at trees, decapitating ancient giants with chainsaws, and committing other disturbing acts that would make us tree-huggers quick to defend our beloved darlings. However, what we don’t know is that these fierce and seemingly cruel acts are doing just that, defending our forests against harm. It is not a battle against them, but rather a battle for them: the battle to bring back biodiversity.

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Resilience: the ball-and-cup metaphor


Voices of Resilience introduces Rupert Seidl, Professor of forest ecosystem management and Deputy Head of the Institute of Silviculture at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria. His research focuses on understanding how climate and disturbances affect forest ecosystem dynamics, and on applying this knowledge towards increasing the robustness of forest management in a changing world.

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