Uncovering the hidden potential – how European forests can be adapted to climate change

The European forest sector phases numerous demands and challenges, and the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change might just be the biggest one of them. The issue is well acknowledged in high-level speeches but not much is known about what happens at the regional or local scale. What are the specific issues, how they are dealt with and by whom? To breach this gap, the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) established a Focus Group in spring 2017. 20 experts from different European countries with practical experience and technical knowledge were selected to reflect on the question “Which new management practices and tools can improve the climate mitigation and adaptation potential of EU forests?” The group consisted of farmers, foresters, land- owners, researchers and advisors. During 2018, the Focus Group produced 10 mini-papers that cover the important aspects of forest practices and climate change. The final report of their work was coordinated by Dr. Marcus Lindner  from the European Forest Institute (EFI) and published on the 8th of January 2019. You can read the report here.

Participation and Integration – Forest Management in Slovenia

Simon Poljanšek, you are the new Slovenian national focal point for the European Network INTEGRATE. Would you please introduce yourself?

Simon Poljansek
Simon Poljansek

Growing up on a small farm, surrounded by forest and animals, it was easy for me to connect with nature and outdoor activities, road cycling, photography, animals, and becoming a family man. An obvious choice was to study at the University of Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty, Department for Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources. I successfully finished my studies there with a rewarded diploma thesis on the analysis of the amount and structure of deadwood in Slovenian forests. My education continued with a doctoral thesis on dendrochronological investigation of Black pine (Pinus nigra Arnold) in the Balkan Peninsula, which I conducted at the Slovenian Forestry Institute. I used different tree-ring parameters (widths, density and stable isotopes) to investigate the influence of climate (temperature, sunshine, precipitation, river hydrology) or other extreme events (forest fires) on trees, growing in various environments from mountainous sites to urban surroundings.

What are you currently working on in the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food?

The knowledge obtained on this path I described above is now used for monitoring contents and procedures of forest management plans, and assessing forest resources. Furthermore, I use my scientific experience to review targeted research projects, and to collaborate with my team in the development of the “LULUCF” national forestry accounting plan. Finally, a crucial part of my work is to cooperate in different governmental and other institutional associations with the aim of developing system solutions for the sustainable development of forests ecosystems, resilience and biodiversity, alongside with environmental, production and social forests functions.

Borkenkäfer – Fluch oder Segen für unseren Wald in NRW?

2018 war ein katastrophales Jahr für den Wald in NRW – das zeigt auch der kürzlich publizierte Waldzustandsbericht.  Landesumweltministerin Ursula Heinen-Esser kommentierte dazu: “Unsere Wälder sind in einem besorgniserregenden Zustand. Denn durch das Zusammenwirken von Sturm im Frühjahr, gefolgt von extremer Sommertrockenheit und anschließend starkem Borkenkäferbefall in den Nadelwäldern sind die Schäden in diesem Jahr erheblich.” Die massive Population des Borkenkäfers wird derzeit kontrovers diskutiert. Besonders betroffen von dem Befall in NRW sind der Bonner Kottenforst, das Vorgebirge und das Naafbachtal. Laut Regionalforstamt Rhein-Sieg ist die Population des Borkenkäfers so hoch wie seit 1947 nicht mehr.

Während Naturschützer in dem starken Borkenkäferbefall eine regelrechte Bereicherung für die Entwicklung des Waldes sehen, argumentiert auf der Gegenseite die Forstwirtschaft, dass der aktuelle Befall dem Wald langfristig schade, weil er dazu führe, dass ganze Bestände aussterben.

Begünstigt durch den trockenen Sommer konnte sich der kleine Käfer erheblich vermehren. Der BUND (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland) beschreibt den Populationsschub als Zeugnis der Selbstheilungskräfte des Waldes. Dieser sei damit nicht nur in der Lage, sich an die klimabedingten Veränderungen anzupassen, indem er sich von einem Nadelforst hin zu einem Naturwald entwickele, sondern die Borkenkäfer bedeuten dem BUND zufolge auch einen Nahrungszuwachs für viele Tiere, wie etwa den Specht.

Diese durch den Borkenkäferbefall ausgelösten Veränderungen, die von Naturschützern so positiv bewertet werden, sieht die Forstwirtschaft mit starken Bedenken. Deswegen wurden in den vergangenen Monaten viele Hektar Wald kahlgeschlagen, um der Ausbreitung des Borkenkäfers entgegenzuwirken. Der BUND kritisiert dieses Vorgehen der Forstwirtschaft, da im Zuge der starken Abholzung auch der Waldboden und somit die Lebensgrundlage der Bäume gefährdet würden.

Mehr Hintergrund zu dem Thema und weiterführende Artikel hier:

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 06.01.2019

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 29.12.2018

Pressemitteilung von Wald und Holz NRW, 31.10.2018

BUND Statement zum Borkenkäfer-Befall im Bayerischen Wald


Conference “Temperate and boreal primeval forests in the face of global change”

An international scientific conference dealing with “Temperate and boreal primeval forests in the face of global change” is organized by The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and the Ukrainian National Forestry University in Lviv, Ukraine, on 2-4 September 2019. The conference will be hosted by the Ukrainian National Forestry University.

The goal of this conference is to bring together the global community of scientists working on the ecology and dynamics of temperate and boreal primeval forests, and their interactions with local people. The participants are offered the opportunity to present their current research and to discuss how global change might affect temperate and boreal primeval forests. Apart from contributions on primeval forests, the organizers also welcome those dealing with formerly managed forests which are protected as forest reserves and on the pathway to become primeval forests again. They also encourage to submit contributions dealing with effects of the surrounding forests on primeval forests and their relation to societal needs. Ukraine is a particularly suitable place for this conference since it still harbors large primeval forest remnants.

The provisional program of the conference includes plenary sessions with keynote talks, sub-plenary and poster sessions, a plenary discussion and a post-conference excursion. Proposal submission for talks and posters as well as registrations will open on 28 February 2019.

You can find the preliminary agenda and information here.

Report from the Forum On Catalan Wildfire Research

The Pau Costa Foundation (PCF) and its partners and network form the Wildfire Thematic node within our joint European Forest Risk Facility initiative. PCF called for a Forum meeting on Catalan Wildfire Research on November 6th 2018 in Barcelona. Since Catalonia´s wildfire community is always good for inspiration and pioneering approaches, we would like to share the results here with you.

During one intense and enriching day, the Forum gathered around 80 participants and 45 speakers, presenting and discussing about the ongoing research and management challenges in Catalonia and beyond. Practitioners and scientist from Catalonia exchanged actual scientific results and current needs. 

The motivation of the Forum raises from a well-known gap in the collaboration framework between researchers and forest/fire managers. In fact, these two groups are closer than they have ever been in the last 20 years, yet there is not enough collaboration to have one single voice on wildfire challenges, needs and solutions to reach out efficiently to politicians and society. This is not only a regional or national challenge, but a global one that requires immediate attention by the communities. Events like the Forum on Catalan Wildfire research should be replicated in other regions with the same purpose. 

From this meeting we have accomplished the eight key points that were drawn from the discussions. We have published them in our PCF blog. Furthermore, all presentationsvideos and information about the participant research groups of the Forum are available in the Lessons on Fire.

If you have not yet registered, take this opportunity to engage and discover the wildfire community, where you will be able to share, discuss and get to know people from all around the world here here.

2019 happy news: 8 million Euro for European-Chinese project on UFBS

In the final working week of 2018, we received the confirmation that the EFI-coordinated CLEARING HOUSE project on urban forest-based solutions (UFBS) has been selected for funding by the European Commission. EFI will coordinate 27 project partners from Europe and China in a joint European-Chinese Collaborative Learning project on the role of Urban Forest-based solutions for sustainable urbanisation and resilient cities.

How to translate the global commitments into actions

“Go beyond your own border”, was the statement delivered by Hedwig Bruggeman, leader of the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, during a plenary session at the Global Landscape Forum (GLF). The event focused on the promotion of sustainable landscape management, based on a cross-disciplinary and inter-cultural approach.
The Global Landscape Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform led by the Centre for International Forestry Research. GLF 2018 took place in the city of Bonn on the 1st and 2nd of December. These days were very inspiring, filled with many stimulating discussions. Therefore, I will limit my story to the most engaging episodes, starting from a forest restoration talk, to an indigenous leaders’ dialogue and finishing with input from my EFI colleagues Jose Bolaños, who attended a discussion of the pillars on how to reach collaborative actions. As a junior researcher from the EFI Bonn office and active volunteer for GLF, I was involved in the organization and coordination of its very active Youth in Landscape delegation.

Ökologischer Waldumbau in deutschem Grafenwald

Von Fichtenwald zu Mischwald, von purem Holzeinschlag zu ökologischem Campingplatz und Waldfriedhof – die Grafenfamilie von Hatzfeld setzt seit über 20 Jahren ein beeindruckendes Waldumbau-Projekt um. Mit den Herausforderungen für WaldbesitzerInnen in Deutschland, mit der Balance zwischen Holzernte und Artenschutz, mit Sturmschäden und sogenannten”Ökosystemdienstleistungen” beschäftigt sich die spannende SWR-Dokumentation Die Waldgrafen und der Sturm – Familie von Hatzfeldt erfindet ihren Forst neu. Der etwa 30-minütige Film nimmt dabei sowohl Aspekte der nachhaltigen und vielfältigen Waldnutzung als auch Naturschutz sowie das Ziel der langfristigen Resilienz des Privatwaldes gegen (klimabedingte) Störungen in den Blick.

Together for forests in sustainable cities

EFI and EFUF combining strengths to facilitate urban forest-based solutions employment in Europe

The majority of Europeans are now living in cities and urban agglomerations, facing several environmental issues – including climate change. However, cities are also major drivers and facilitators in finding solutions for handling these challenges. Urban forests – trees, woodlands and forests in and around cities – can play an important role in the transition towards urban resilience and a green and sustainable economy.

Building on their mutual strengths, the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding strategic collaboration on research and policy in the field of urban forestry on Friday, 30th November 2018. This collaboration will further the understanding of the potential of urban forests, forestry, nature-, and bio-based solutions in supporting the development of sustainable cities. Both organisations will jointly develop a strategic approach to facilitate the employment of urban forest-based solutions in European cities, through coordinated communication, research and development efforts. Throughout the collaboration, EFI’s forest-based scientific experience and its European-wide science-policy network and EFUF’s multidisciplinary network with local authorities, practitioners and researchers will be complementary in developing a stronger discourse on urban forest-based solutions.

A first common initiative developed within the MoU framework, is the launch of the Call for Abstracts for the 22nd session of the European Forum on Urban Forestry in Cologne (Germany). The EFUF2019 conference has been branded “Urban Forests: Full of Energy” and will focus on the role of urban forests as providers of energy, both through woody biomass and through physical activity, art, learning and collaborative working. EFUF is organised at the “Waldlabor” (Forestlab) in Cologne, which is a magnificent place for exchanging knowledge based on participatory science and experiments.

Veranstaltung “Waldbau und Waldbewirtschaftung im Klimawandel”

Neue Instrumente für den Waldbesitz in Nordrhein-Westfalen

Angesichts der Veränderungen, die sich aus Klimawandel, Digitalisierung und neuen gesellschaftlichen Ansprüchen ergeben, benötigt die Waldbewirtschaftung effektive IT-unterstützte Management-Instrumente. Im Rahmen der Veranstaltung “Waldbau und Waldbewirtschaftung im Klimawandel” stellt das Ministerium für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (MULNV) am Freitag, den 7. Dezember 2018 in Düsseldorf neue Hilfestellungen des Landes vor, mit denen der Waldbesitz auf die Herausforderungen reagieren kann: das Waldbaukonzept NRW, die landesweite forstliche Standortkarte und das neue Internetportal Waldinfo.NRW.