Deer management for resilient future forests

Across the forest sector in Europe there is broad consensus that resilient forests should regenerate naturally with multiple and different (and site specific) tree species. The more diversity in the regeneration, the better. With a forest use that follows natural processes. By these means, ecological and economic risks are reduced.

Across the forest sector in Europe there is also broad consensus that unbalanced deer densities have a negative effect on tree species composition through selective browsing, bark stripping and fraying.

However, there exists a conflict of interest in different European countries since many years: Should high deer densities for easier hunting be preferred – or should lower deer densities for forest development be favoured? A new dimension is added to this discussion when focusing on biodiversity. Biodiversity of forest systems is seen as an insurance and pre-requisite for resilience with regards to expected climate change. Considering that new dimension, the discussion exceeds the level of forest owner interests vs. hunting interests, it becomes a complex topic for society.

Across Europe, we can find 28 different hunting laws and regulations for the same species. The project SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forests (short: SURE), in cooperation with a wide network of stakeholders is addressing this issue and will formulate generic guidelines on deer management and silviculture, including examples of land management objectives, commonly agreed and shared between land users.

We will list position papers and other information here and will gradually update the information.