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Tag: Forest Resilience

Key actions needed for resilient forests

In a world facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and growing pressure on natural resources, we rely on resilient forest ecosystems (IPCC 2023) to mitigate these threats and support the well-being of our communities. On the one hand, forests are being increasingly impacted by numerous disturbances including wildfires, windstorms, droughts, and biotic threats. On the other hand, forests play a crucial role in addressing global challenges: they provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, habitat provision, and sustainable livelihoods.

In 2020, former EFI researcher Laura Nikinmaa and her colleagues investigated fostering forest resilience as a key response strategy to address uncertainty stemming from global change. But how can theoretical concepts be translated into practical actions? Based on a systematic review of 255 studies, Nikinmaa et al. (2020) pointed out that the more holistic concept of social-ecological resilience  – which involves enhancing the ability of ecosystems to provide essential services while maintaining human well-being – has not been implemented widely in the practice of forest management because of the lack of clarity in operationalising it. At the same time, policy makers are tasked with devising policies without sound knowledge of the processes that have promoted forest resilience in the recent past. As a result, both policy makers and forest managers lack a broad understanding of whether forests are going to be resilient in the future given the current global trends (Nikinmaa et al. 2020).

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Healthy trees translate to healthy citizens

New FORWARDS project will provide crucial information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change

Climate change has already had a deleterious impact on forests ecosystems and silviculture in various parts of the world. But healthy trees translate to healthy citizens: everyone benefits from forests’ clean air, safe food and water, and recreational space.

With a total budget of €14m funded by the European Commission’s HorizonEurope (plus additional funding by Switzerland and the UK) and more than 19 partners (incl. European Forest Institute) involved, the FORWARDS project (ForestWard Observatory to Secure Resilience of European Forests) will provide timely and detailed information on European forests’ vulnerability to climate change. The project will also deliver science-based knowledge to guide management using the principles of climate-smart forestry, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity conservation. With its activities, FORWARDS aims at supporting European forests and society to transform, adapt, and mitigate climate-induced changes.

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Mapping forest disturbance risk management actors

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.

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Life after recovery: how Scots pine trees compensate for drought

Did you know that researchers have linked extreme drought events to losses in forest productivity and widespread tree mortality on every forested continent on earth? As a result of climate change, in the coming decades we expect these drought events to increase in frequency, duration and intensity in many parts of the world, posing an emerging set of challenges at a scale that many contemporary forests have so far not had to deal with. This in turn means that we need to understand how forests respond to, and recover from, such events across a range of both temporal and spatial scales to ensure our forests are resilient to the challenges of a future climate. This understanding must cover everything from how between-tree variability buffers against stand-level change, which tree and stand attributes and management practices confer resilience, how different species growing in different locations respond to similar types of drought and what the long-term implications of these events mean for biodiversity, forest carbon, stand structure and forest growth, amongst many others. In our recent paper “Life after recovery: Increased resolution of forest resilience assessment sheds new light on post‐drought compensatory growth and recovery dynamics” published in the Journal of Ecology (Ovenden et al. 2021), we look at the recovery of trees after drought from a new perspective.

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“Changing our way of forest management is the key to making forests more resilient”

How can we increase the resilience of our forest to be better prepared for future natural disturbances and climate change, while maintaining a high level of wood production, carbon storage, and habitat quality for biodiversity? The project Innovative forest management strategies for a resilient bioeconomy under climate change and disturbances (I-MAESTRO) aims at improving the scientific basis for developing adequate forest management strategies. In an interview series, we are introducing the different I-MAESTRO partners and their roles in the project – and we are sharing very personal perspectives from different researchers involved. Finally, we are interviewing Laura Nikinmaa, PhD student and research fellow at European Forest Institute (EFI).

What is EFI contributing to I-Maestro?
EFI has several tasks in I-Maestro out of which updating the European forest disturbance database up to 2020 is of major importance. Many of the forest disturbance models predicting the future require adequate knowledge of the previous disturbances so the database can substantially contribute also to our understanding of the future forest disturbances. Another task of EFI is to review the literature on how forest management can affect the disturbance impact. In that task, the aim is to understand what type of forest management does have a mitigating effect on forest disturbances, incorporate this understanding into the forest management simulation models, and to analyse how do the recommended forest management practices reflect the available science.

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Investigating potential future climate, disturbance and forest management effects

How can we increase the resilience of our forest to be better prepared for future natural disturbances and climate change, while maintaining a high level of wood production, carbon storage, and habitat quality for biodiversity? The project Innovative forest management strategies for a resilient bioeconomy under climate change and disturbances (I-MAESTRO) aims at improving the scientific basis for developing adequate forest management strategies. In an interview series, we are introducing the different I-MAESTRO partners and their roles in the project – and we are sharing very personal perspectives from different researchers involved. We are now introducing Mats Mahnken, PhD researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

What is PIK contributing to I-Maestro?

PIK is involved in I-Maestro with tasks regarding forest modelling and simulation of forest dynamics taking into account environmental change effects and forest management. It is using the forest model 4C (‘FORESEE’ – Forest Ecosystems in a Changing Environment) at different spatial scales and will also be involved in work dealing with data for model comparisons and data for calibration. Thus, we are applying the expertise of the working group on Forest and Ecosystem Resilience at PIK from prior projects that focused on modelling shifts in temperature and precipitation and possible adaptive forest management on European forests as well as projects on model comparison and data harmonization.

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From the past winds to future storms – updating the Database of Forest Disturbances in Europe

What if we had a database covering all forest disturbances in Europe over the past 170 years? Would we be able to identify patterns of old disturbance regimes, analyse how they have changed over the years with forest management and climate change, and make predictions on how the future disturbances will look like? Could we be better prepared for what is to come?

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“We need to understand our dependence on sustainable ecosystems”

An Interview with Eeva Primmer, Research Director, Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE)

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 Eeva Primmer, Research Director, Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE).

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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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