Congratulations and “Mission Success”!

Since the 1st of April 2019, the School Forest Enterprise ‘Masaryk Forest’ of Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic has a new director, Prof. Dr. Tomáš Vrška. He is an instrumental person in forest policy who supported the EFI Risk Facility Initiative. Thanks to his snewr position, the Risk Facility network will have now also access to Brno University, the related forest enterprise and to the forestry contacts in the country. This development is of key value in the face of the bark beetle outbreak which has also affected Czech Republic.

Dr.  Vrška had been working for a long time as a head of department of forest ecology within the Research Institute ‘Silva Taroucy’ and partly as an academic staff member at the Department of Silviculture (Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology) at Mendel University in Brno, where he obtained his habilitation in the field of silviculture. He had also earlier worked as the head of forest care in National Park Podyjí.

Wald-Wild Urteil aus Bayern / Silviculture and deer – an interesting verdict from Bavaria

For English summary please scroll down.

Das höchste Bayerische Verwaltungsgericht hat im November 2018 ein höchstinteressantes Urteil gesprochen. Unter anderem sind drei sehr bedeutsame Positionen herausgearbeitet worden:

  1. Die Jagd hat eine dienende Funktion.
  2. Es gilt der Grundsatz “Wald vor Wild” auch für Eigenjagdbesitzer.
  3. Eine verlässliche Grundlage zur Aufstellung des Abschussplanes ist das “Forstliche Gutachten”.

Sparking firesmart policies in the EU – let’s train together!

The European Commission recently published a report entitled: Forest Fires, Sparking firesmart policies in the EU.

Forest fires constitute a serious and increasing threat throughout Europe, particularly in Greece, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. Currently we are also observing more and more fires in the temperate zone of Central Europe. Despite a decreasing trend in the number of fires and areas burned, observed in some countries since the 1980s, larger and more damaging fires (i.e. ‘megafires’) are challenging the suppression capacities of many wildfire protection programmes across Europe.

A Call from the US for the European Forest Risk Facility?

I was in Barcelona on Monday 11 February to participate in the EFIMED event Facing Forest Fires with EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides. The Commissioner explained his rescEU plan aiming at improving the European system to tackle natural disasters in more detail. Immediately, my earlier thoughts on this plan came back to mind: I still think rescEU might have the wrong focus, and we should allocate resources towards wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression.

Stylianides’ speech was followed by four contributions from science, practice and also the policy level. They all had a clear message, that coincides with our European Forest Risk Facility‘s vision (resilient landscapes – adapted communities – adequate response): Instead of more fire fighting aircraft (which is part of rescEU) emphasize must be given to landscape- and forest management, i.e. managing the fuel load, fuel availability, and fuel characteristics to enable safe and effective fire management. Often, this fuel management is addressed through the use of prescribed fire, especially in the Mediterranean.

Invitation to International Prescribed Fire Meeting (FLAMEWORK)

European Forest Institute’s SURE project and its initiative to establish the European Forest Risk Facility is again supporting a network activity. We are exchanging with fire and forest experts from 7 countries, this time in Mafra, Portugal, 5 to 10 of May 2019

The III international Prescribed Fire Meeting of Mafra comes as a result of the use of prescribed fire as a land management tool during the last decade, and after the first and second training conducted in 2017 and 2018, with overwhelming positive evaluation by all the participating technicians.

The Mafra 2019 Operational Training, supported by the SURE project and the European Forest Risk Facility initiative, will bring together expert technicians from all around the world ( seven countries) and will create opportunities for knowledge exchange. One of the objectives of this exercise is to make it as practical and operational as possible, simulating a training camp so that participants can strengthen partnerships, a spirit of friendship and increase the trustful cohesion of the fire community.

Through the cooperation with Vallfirest, the European Forest Risk Facility can support the event with hand tools, PPE and drip torches. Very much appreciated indeed.

The provisional program may be changed due to weather conditions. Take a look at the program here and here for the list of invited speakers.

Further reading: This is a very interesting, and motivating, blog post from the “Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network”. With some minor adaptions (land use change for instance), this article refers not only to the US but to Europe just as well! Read it, and please consider that, in Europe, prescribed fire is only one tool in the land- and fuel management toolbox.

 

Deer in Denmark

New Fences in Ireland?

No, not the border fence between Ireland and Northern Ireland, no.

In this blog, we are discussing tree species composition, forest adaptation and conversion towards more resilient forests! Deer management in silviculture is one of the crucial factors to consider, just like enough light for the seedlings and site conditions. And here are the fencing news from Ireland, I quote from the Irish newspaper “Independant”.

“New deer fencing grant among measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests: Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle today announced the opening of three new support measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests. A new scheme to support  ‘Continuous Cover Forestry’, (CCF), which allows for the production of commercial timber while retaining forest cover at all times. Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) is an alternative forest management approach where the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels without clearfelling. The distinctive element of CCF is the avoidance of clearfelling areas greater than 0.25 ha or more than two tree heights wide without the retention of some mature trees. These systems are generally associated with natural regeneration but natural regeneration can be supplemented by planting if required.  

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.

Bayern: Der Ökologie mehr Gewicht verleihen?

Ich möchte hier eine kürzlich publizierte Pressemitteilung im Holzzentralblatt teilen und kommentieren.

Koalition in Bayern lehnt dritten Nationalpark ab
“Wir wollen überall in Bayern der Ökologie mehr Gewicht verleihen und setzen auf die Stärkung der Naturparks. Einen dritten Nationalpark werden wir nicht realisieren”, heißt es im Koalitionsvertrag, den CSU und Freie Wähler am 5. November unterzeichnet haben. Aber auch: “Wir nehmen dauerhaft rund 10% der staatlichen Waldflächen als nutzungsfreie Naturschutzflächen und Naturwaldflächen von der forstwirtschaftlichen Nutzung aus.” Die Flächen für Vertragsnaturschutz sollen verdoppelt werden. Am unlängst verlängerten “Waldpakt” soll festgehalten werden. Weiter heißt es: “Wir setzen uns das Ziel, bis zum Jahr 2030 rund 200.000 ha klimatolerante Wälder zu schaffen. Wir wollen den Holzbau fördern und die Marktabsatzchancen auch für das Laubholz erhöhen. Waldbesitzer, Holzhändler und Sägewerke sind wichtige Partner bei der Bewirtschaftung der Wälder und der Vermarktung des Holzes.”

Ireland: deer management in native woodlands

The management of deer in native woodlands has become a central issue in recent years. This is primarily due to increasing deer populations, the expansion of forest area through afforestation, introductions of new deer species and the re-distribution/transportation of extant naturalized deer species. Native and broad-leaved woodlands are particularly vulnerable to deer damage through browsing, grazing pressure, fraying and bole scoring. Conservation and wood quality objectives can be seriously compromised.
Negative ecological impacts from excessive deer pressure on woodland structure and ground vegetation community composition has negative knock-on effects on all other assemblages including invertebrates, birds, mammals and soil fauna. Conversely, a sustainable deer presence has positive ecological impacts and recreational value, especially as revenue through game management can be appreciable to woodland owners.