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Resilience Blog Posts

“Watching trees grow, shrink, drink and breathe”

“This oak tree and me, we’re made of the same stuff, ” Carl Sagan, one of the most inspiring science communicators of the 20th Century once said. But what did he mean?

Probably, he thought of Darwin and his famous universal tree of life, that was used not only as a metaphor, but also as a model and research tool. Furthermore, by choosing an oak tree as a comparison, Sagan might have referred to himself being strong, tall, long-standing. More generally, his quote could refer to the ancient relationship of human beings and the forest. And finally, Carl Sagan obviously used a personification to relate to the tree, to “humanize” it – a common approach in science communication.

By “humanizing” nature, we create empathy. That is one reason why German forester Peter Wohlleben’s book “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—” was so successful. However, Wohlleben is quite controversially discussed among both foresters and scientists. “Not scientific enough,” researchers say. “Too emotional,” forest practitioners complain.

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A SINCERE interest in forest ecosystem services

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” -John Muir

Forests have more to offer than timber and wood products. Through its multifunctional nature, it provides several other goods and services such as carbon sequestration, erosion control and the provision of clean water. These benefits which people obtain from forests can collectively be referred to as “forest ecosystem services”.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) 2005 report classifies ecosystem services into three categories:

  • Provisioning services (e.g. food, fresh water, firewood)
  • Regulatory services (e.g. climate regulation, carbon sequestration)
  • Cultural ecosystem services (nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences)
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Resilience: what tree rings can say

A single definition of forest resilience is yet to be found, so we decided to establish a series of interviews introducing scientists who deal with this term every day. Meet Ute Sass-Klaassen from Wageningen University. Her research focuses on tree growth in relation to environmental factors. Droughts, flooding, heat waves, fires, and frost events play an important role for productivity and survival of trees and may cause severe disturbances in forest ecosystem services. Knowledge about forest growth and mortality provides valuable information for understanding how surviving trees have reacted to these disturbances and determining basic parameters of a functioning forest ecosystem.

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Forest Governance: How to orientate in the labyrinth of international forest policies?

By Lukas Giessen and Carmen Rodríguez

In this Blogpost Lukas Giessen and Carmen Rodríguez, both EFI staff, provide us with an insight into a recently published article on the numerous elements of international forest-related policy. The paper indicates that the many policies addressing forests in a way or another are fragmented and often conflict with one another, possibly leading to unsuccessful forest protection efforts of many governments around the globe. But this fragmentation is also found to hold promise for actors in finding allies to their own missions.

Because it is quite tricky to identify the actually relevant elements of a fragmented set of international policies, we developed a new method for mapping the entire governance architecture of international forest policy, using the United Nations Forum on Forests’ (UNFF) deliberations as key reference.

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EFI looks at lowering its own carbon footprint

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires societies to simultaneously work on land-based mitigation options and reduce emissions in other sectors. This means approximately 45% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2010 levels by 2030. As an environmental management trainee at EFI, my task is to look at the environmental impacts of our own work and our daily operations.

In terms of climate change mitigation, the most important categories for EFI are most likely procurement of goods and services, energy consumption and employee work travel

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Resilience: one-off vs continuous disturbance

In an effort to foster a definition of resilience in the forestry field, we decided to establish a series of interviews introducing scientists who deal with this term every day. Today meet Elena Cantarello. She is a lecturer in sustainability science and conducts research on the dynamics and thresholds of ecosystem services at Bournemouth University, e.g. by measuring the resilience of forests in terms of recovery, resistance and net change after climate change, disease outbreak and extensive animal grazing.

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Der tote Taucher im Wald – Gedanken zur Feuerbekämpfung aus der Luft

Vielleicht erinnert sich noch der ein oder andere an den Tatort „Der tote Taucher im Wald“. Ein Löschflugzeug schöpft Wasser, ein Taucher landet in einem Waldbrand…Die gegenwärtige Diskussion über Löschflugzeuge in Deutschland erinnerte mich jedenfalls daran.

Während wir schon jetzt bis August 2019 teilweise überraschende Ausmaße der Waldbrände feststellen müssen, wird kontrovers über den Umgang mit Feuer und den möglichen Löschmöglichkeiten diskutiert. Auch wir haben uns zum Thema integriertes Feuermanagement hier auf diesem Blog hinreichend geäußert und wollen nun auch zur Diskussion über Löschflugzeuge beitragen, im Folgenden ein paar Gedanken.

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