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Month: December 2019

Networks of trust – the foundation for wildfire management

Written by Laura Nikinmaa & Maria Schlossmacher

Imagine having a team of chefs cooking Eggs Benedict. One of them has only ever made omelets; the other one has all the ingredients but no recipe. The third one knows how to do it, but they have been forbidden to cook anything else than scrambled eggs by the owner of the restaurant. On top of everything, they are not talking to one another because they are all competing for promotion. The outcome? You guessed it, anything but Eggs Benedict, the restaurant owner is enraged, and none of the chefs gets a promotion.

While the restaurant world is known to be fiery, the actual world of wildfires is straight up in flames. We have seen abnormally active fire season in 2019 in many countries. Poland had almost three times more fires compared to the 10-year average this year, Germany more than five times more, and France more than seven times more (EFFIS). The cherry on top was the United Kingdom, which had eight times more fires in 2019 than in the 10-year average. It was therefore fitting that the SURE project workshop (“pro-active fire management”) was organized back to back with the England and Wales Wildfire Forum’s (EWWF) Wildfire Conference from 20th to 22nd of November in Cardiff, Wales. The EWWF conference had more than 180 participants from 14 different countries, out of which almost 50 stayed to participate in the SURE workshop on the 22nd. The theme of the conference was “Manage the fuel – Reduce the Risk”. The speakers consisted of experts from practice and research, from fire and rescue services to forest administrates, and the topics varied from practical examples to the latest knowledge we have on wildfire behavior.

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“Ohne Bäume, keine Träume” (Without trees, no dreams)


Three days prior to the start of the UN Climate conference in Madrid, the fourth global climate strike initiated by the “Fridays for Future” movement was held on Friday 29th of November 2019, the same day as “Black Friday”. Worldwide 7 million people in 150 countries protested for more climate protection while simultaneously against excessive consumerism, as it was Black Friday.
In Germany, 630.000 people in around 520 places went on the streets to demonstrate especially under the banner “Neustart Klima” (Restart Climate) against the new German climate programme, which was under ballot in the federal council of Germany at the same time. The currently planned climate progamme is widely named in the media and by protestors “Klimapaketchen” (small climate package) as critics consider it slack and not efficient enough.

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Happy 25th Anniversary, EUFORGEN!

Written by Ewa Hermanowicz & Maria Schlossmacher

2019 marks a milestone for EUFORGEN as it signifies 25 years since its establishment in 1994 – a time to reflect on what has been achieved and to look forward to the future. 25 years have shown that EUFORGEN was able to strengthen capacities in member countries to build a strong network and to start implementing a coordinated pan-European strategy on the genetic conservation of forest trees.

Founded as a result of a resolution adopted by the 1st Ministerial Conference of the Forest Europe process, EUFORGEN aims to make the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources an integral part of sustainable forest management. The resolution called for the establishment of a voluntary instrument for cooperation on conservation of genetic diversity of European forests and EUFORGEN became that instrument.

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Schools’ Reaction to Fridays for Future: “Green Campus Day” in Freiburg

by Sonja Mewes

The Fridays for Future movement has received not only a lot of attention but also support in our University Town of Freiburg in the south of Germany. This led the Montessori School ANGELL in Freiburg – where I am teaching – to reflect on how to channel this energy of the students to engage and work on concrete projects related to climate change and environment.
In this context, the Montessori Zentrum ANGELL decided to launch an initiative called ‘The Green Campus Day’ on November 15th, 2019. Our teachers suggested a range of projects in the area of climate change, biodiversity, waste reduction and upcycling. We selected all these projects on the basis that our students would learn about their contributions to reduce their carbon footprint, their impact on biodiversity and waste reduction. It was up to the students to select a project of their choice. The age of the students in our group ranged from 12 to 18 years.

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Bitten by the same bug – German spruce in jeopardy

“Scientists alarmed by bark beetle boom” (ScienceDaily, 2019), “French forests scarred as heatwaves bring bark beetle infestation” (Euronews, 2019a), “Czech forest owners face $1.7 billion loss this year from bark beetle crisis” (Euronews, 2019b) and finally “Merkel promises €500m to revitalise German forests” (Guardian, 2019) – these were only some of the many forest-related headlines in European news in the past months.

It is obvious: How weather affects our forests, would not have made it to the news ten years ago – but following the unprecedented hot temperatures, long dry spells as well as severe storm events in Central Europe, everybody was talking about the state of our forests. These extreme weather events are a not only a huge burden for human health but also for entire natural ecosystems. In Germany, extreme temperatures contributed to the extremely dire state of about 180,000 ha of forested area and taxpayer support of 800 million Euros for reforestation measures (FAZ, 2019). In the past, evolution gave flora and fauna the opportunity to adapt to changing environmental conditions and climates but the pace and scale of climatic changes that we experience today, give our natural world a mountain to climb, regardless of the money thrown at the problem.

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