New York: Urban forestry for the next century

In New York City, urban forests are heavily used for recreation, reports the article A Plan for New York City’s Forests. Yes, Forests., recently published by The New York Times. Unfortunately, city forests in the Big Apple are at stake: Due to climate change and invasive species that can change soil conditions, they risk losing wildlife and plants. A nonprofit group called the Natural Areas Conservancy therefore focuses on how to prepare the city’s forests for a changing climate, supposing that urban forests will be affected a generation or two before differences begin to appear in rural areas. This involves planting tree species resilient to climate change and – of course – requires financial investment. “Now, in close consultation with the Parks Department, the conservancy has prepared a long-term plan for the care of the city’s forests, what it says is the first of its kind in the nation. The conservancy is eager to export it and is training other nonprofit groups in the city to use data from the survey to their advantage”, states the article. More information on how the future urban forest should look like you will find here.

Establishing a European Forest Risk Facility

From pests and insect damages to megafires and storm events – European forests are affected by diverse and often transnational disturbances, with profound impacts on forest ecosystem services and livelihoods. In response to these challenges the European Forest Institute (EFI) together with risk management stakeholders from all over Europe is establishing the European Forest Risk Facility, an innovative platform of exchange and knowledge transfer on forest disturbances, risk prevention and management. Connecting science, practice and policy, the constitution of the Risk Facility is one of the main objectives of the project SUstaining and Enhancing the REsilience of European Forests (SURE) coordinated by EFI’s Bonn Office. The Risk Facility collects and distributes data and information for a better understanding of forest risks and facilitates the exchange of good practices, ultimately enabling better-informed decisions in natural resource management and policy.

Balancing ecological, economical and social interests in European forest

“How are different European countries dealing with Integrated Forest Management and which role do questions like tree composition, forest ownership, and expectations with regards to timber production play? What are the challenges regarding effective funding schemes for Integrated Forest Management, and why do we need payments for ecosystem services? How can we better communicate the advantages of Integrated Forest Management? Which tools can be used to further educate foresters, policy makers, and other relevant stakeholders? Following the invitation of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, we discussed these and more issues in the framework of the second meeting of the European Network INTEGRATE from 19-21 March 2018.

Together with more than 40 representatives of ministries, state forests and private forest owners, researchers and practitioners from 10 European countries, we spent three inspiring days in the Czech Republic. Most of the participants came from Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Croatia, Austria and  of course  the Czech Republic, and Italy was represented by a new network member from the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. Joining INTEGRATE for the first time, policy makers from Finland, Latvia and Belgium shared their countries’ approaches to forest management and the integration of nature protection in forest policy.

How forests can help to build sustainable cities and make them climate-smart

Happy International Day of Forests – and also happy 25th anniversary to European Forest Institute! Check out our new video telling the story how forests can help to build sustainable cities and make them climate-smart.

Hurricanes and the future of our forests

After Hurricane Maria blast over the Island of Puerto Rico in September 2017, the damage was severe and the aftermath difficult to evaluate. It flooded whole districts and left the island without electrical power for an extensive amount of time. Thousands of acres of Puerto Rico’s forests were damaged, and while it is estimated that 28,000 acres of the National Park El Yunque were destroyed, field research on the ground was still inconclusive. While remote-sensing data – satellite images or laser based measurements – are useful for preliminary results, they cannot replace basic scientific work on the ground.  A recent New York Times article featured a small team of researchers, which took on the task of evaluating Maria’s aftermath in El Yunque and compared ground observations with existing satellite data of the damage. 

Waldbrandschäden in Bayern: BR-Interview mit A. Held

Wie können Waldbrände im deutschen Winter entstehen? Sollte man die Hitze-geschädigte Fläche neu bepflanzen oder regeneriert sie sich von selbst? Wie reagiert man am Besten nach einem Brand, um die Schutzfunktion des Waldes zu erhalten?  Welche Rolle spielt die Zusammenarbeit zwischen Forstbewirtschaftern und Feuerwehr? Diese und andere Fragen diskutierte EFI-Waldbrand-Experte Alexander Held Anfang Januar 2018 im Bayerischen Rundfunk mit der Journalistin und Moderatorin Birgit Harprath. Anlass war eine Rückschau auf den Jochberg-Brand vor einem Jahr.

Das BR-Interview ist auch als Podcast verfügbar.

Wild und Wald im Klimawandel – alte Kontroversen und neue Lösungsansätze

von Hans von der Goltz, Alexander Held und Christian Henschke

Spektakuläre Risiken wie Feuer oder Sturm erfahren größeres mediales Interesse als Reh oder Hirsch. Während die Wirkung von Waldbrand oder Sturm in wenigen Stunden sichtbar wird, bleiben die Folgen des Wildverbisses in einem schleichenden Prozess verborgen. Auf diese Weise ist ein Schlüsselfaktor für erfolgreiche Klimaanpassung im Wald in der öffentlichen Wahrnehmung, medial und politisch auf fatale Weise unterbelichtet.

Hintergrund: Anpassung an die Folgen des Klimawandels

Die Folgen des Klimawandels drohen die Zukunftsfähigkeit der Wälder zu gefährden. Aus diesem Grund haben Forstämter und WaldbesitzerInnen ein Leitbild für die Waldentwicklung unter Berücksichtigung des Klimawandels entworfen. Der sogenannte „klimaresiliente Wald“ sieht wie folgt aus:

  • Vielfältiger Mischwald
  • Widerstandsfähige Bäume mit großen Kronen
  • Nebeneinander von alten und jungen Bäumen
  • Artenreicher und vitaler natürlicher Baumnachwuchs
  • Durchmischung mit klimarobusten Baumarten

Die Erfahrung zeigt, dass Schälschäden (Abnagen von Rindenstücken oder Abziehen ganzer Rinden-streifen von Bäumen vor allem durch Rotwild und andere Hirscharten) und vor allem Verbiss durch Rehwild – sofern ein zu tolerierender Bereich überschreiten wird – diesem Leitbild entgegenstehen: Allzu oft verhindern überhöhte Schalenwildbestände die erfolgreiche Entwicklung vitaler, widerstandsfähiger Mischwälder.

Dieses Problem ist nicht neu, wird aber durch den Klimawandel verschärft. Gleichzeitig könnte der Klimawandel aber eine Gelegenheit sein, eine verkrustete Problemkonstellation lösungsorientiert anzugehen.

SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forests – Kick-off Workshop

European Forest Institute Bonn in collaboration with Pro Silva Bohemica is organizing a workshop focusing on the mitigation and management of forest related risks on 18.-21. February 2018 in Písek, Czech Republic. The event will particularly address disturbance related risks as an integral part of sustainable forest management. Furthermore the workshop attempts to define the conditions, pre-requisites, roles and functions of a ‘European Forest Risk Facility Secretariat’ and of regional network nodes. Participants will have the chance to benefit from expert knowledge with focal points of challenges to sustainable forest management as well as to experience practices to enhance forest resilience in a field trip.

Please find the agenda here.

For more information please contact Alexander Held.

Creating a sustainable and inclusive forest-based bioeconomy in Europe

New EFI study assesses the scientific evidence

by Rach Colling

The bioeconomy has mobilised significant investments in technology, research and innovation. New and innovative bio-products and related services have emerged, and related niche markets show dynamic growth. The future of the bioeconomy, however, raises questions relating to its development potential, but also its sustainability.

The science-based study Towards a sustainable European forest-based bioeconomy – assessment and the way forward provides a synthesis of existing knowledge for policymakers on the importance of forests and the forest-based sector in contributing to the future European bioeconomy. It assesses the economic, social and environmental sustainability of a forest-based bioeconomy, and looks at issues that may affect its development.

EFI Bonn’s fire risks expert joins science-media partnership

EFI Bonn’s fire risks senior expert Alexander Held was selected as a mentor for the Climate Change Immersive Story Accelerator Lookout360°, a new 6-month media support programme for journalists and producers who are eager to get started with immersive stories on climate change. The programme is a pilot project of the recently launched science-media initiative The Lookout Station initiated by European Forest Institute and the Global Editors Network.

Together with Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media
and Dr. John M. Reilly, Co-Director of MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and other mentors, Alexander Held will support a group of 10 journalists by providing his expertise in forest fires, silviculture and deer management.

More information on the programme, trainers and mentors here.