forest fire in Sweden

“HELP! Our forests are burning!” – “But what kind of help do you need?”

The heatwave across central and northern Europe is preparing the ground for a severe wildfire season. Normally mostly green vegetation is turning into “fuel” in countries normally not affected by serious fire problems. Hereby I am referring to countries not prepared for a wildfire season (compared to the Mediterranean areas, who are dealing with frequent forest fires), despite the climate change scenarios and increasing risks and disturbance predictions.

We have reported here on this blog about the fire situation and early warning systems in the UK, Ireland, and Germany already. Now Scandinavia is receiving a lot of media attention. Sweden for instance is calling for international assistance:

Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle as Sweden calls for help. Sweden worst hit as hot, dry summer sparks unusual number of fires, with at least 11 in the far north” (source: The Guardian) or

“Swedish firefighters were still battling 49 different wildfires across the country on Thursday afternoon, and in some areas residents have been asked to leave for their safety. Here’s where evacuations have taken place.” (source: The Local)

 

As we can see from this and most other media articles, reports focus on the weather, the heat and fires and smoke and on helicopters as well as water-bombing aircraft. And that is what you need in a out-of-control fire situation: Hit the fire fast and hard. And for that you need resources like planes, absolutely.

However, what I do miss in most news articles is the fact that the crisis management cycle has more phases than just the response. Is that single focused reporting maybe a reason for the political ignorance of urgent needs for prevention and mitigation?

Wildfeuer auf kontaminierten Flächen

Hier ein Update zu einem erneuten Brand auf ehemaligem Militärgelände (Quelle: Spiegel online) und meine Kommentare dazu.

In Deutschland, vor allem im Osten, gibt es tausende Hektar aktive oder ehemalige Truppenübungsplätze. Naturschutzfachlich sind diese Flächen auf Grund der ehemaligen militärischen Störung äußerst wertvoll und zumeist auch NATURA 2000- Flächen. Leider sind die militärischen Hinterlassenschaften (UXO Unexploded Ordnace) nicht so wertvoll, sondern gefährden Umwelt, Boden, Grundwasser und im Falle von Wildfeuern auch die Einsatzkräfte.

Zwei Fragen stellen sich: Wie können wir den Offenland-Charackter dieser Natura 2000 Flächen erhalten und gleichzeitig die Sicherheit der Einsatzkräfte im Brandfall erhöhen?

It’s not too late to ensure your spot in Sardinia!

There is still time to submit an abstract to present at this year’s two satellite events during the European Forest Institute annual conference taking place in September on the second biggest island of Italy – Sardinia.

Both events touch upon the aspect of biodiversity at the level of genes. In fact, a rich genetic diversity of forest trees is like a resilience insurance: in the face of a climate change and pests and diseases, some trees will have genes that are resistant to these disturbances, thusenabling the forest to recover after some time.

However, the two scientific seminars go beyond resilience and genetic diversity.

How to implement risk management in future forestry? A conference trip to Solsona, Spain

On 6th of June 2018, EFI Bonn’s principal scientist Marcus Lindner and I, Junior researcher Laura Nikinmaa escaped tropical Germany to cool down in the Mediterranean Solsona, Spain, and to participate in the conference “COMMUNICATING RISKS IN Decision Support Systems: from basic research to advanced decision support tools” with 30 other researchers. Hosted by the Forest Science Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), the conference was organized by the SuFoRun project and IUFRO’s Risk Analysis working group 4.04.07. The program provided plenty diverse presentations ranging from using real option analysis to deal with uncertainties to effects of bark stripping on wind resistance of Norway spruce.

Forest Policy means Resilience – Wageningen Meeting

What do we mean when we talk about forest policy and governance? We also mean resilience. The Second International Forest Policy Meeting has presented it quite clearly.

More than hundred participants from 20 countries attended the Second International Forest Policy Meeting which took place in Wageningen between 11th and 13th of April. During the event, participants discussed four main themes: 1. Forest governance, 2. International policy&politics, 3. Community&society, and 4. Conflict&control. They could undeniably experience that forest policy is way more than the actions of powerful actors operated within an institutional structure and enhanced by bureaucracy.

Reducing wildfires in the countryside: Workshop in Ireland

Workshop meeting to collect input for the Northern Irish Vegetation Fire Strategy

45 participants from across Ireland, all of them highly interested in vegetation fire, held a workshop meeting on 20-21 March 2018 in Belfast. The event was also attended by a number of international fire experts and specialists from the UK, Spain, Germany and the US: Chuck Bushey, former president of IAWF; Michael Bruce, Vice Chair of Scottish Wildfire Forum; Rob Gazzard, UK Forestry Commission Fire Adviser; Craig Hope, Lead Wildfire Officer South Wales Fire Service; Simon Thorp, UK Heather Trust; Jordi Vendrell, fire weather and behavior analyst of the Pau Costa Foundation; Alexander Held, European Forest Risk Facility (hosted by European Forest Institute’s Bonn office).

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.

In the forest classroom

Foresters exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope in cooperation with ConFoBi researchers

by Bettina Joa

ConFoBi (Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-Use Landscapes of Central Europe) is a research project of the University of Freiburg and the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) that focuses on the effectiveness of structural retention measures for biodiversity conservation in multi-functional forests. Researchers work in a common pool of 135 study plots located in the Black Forest. In the course of ConFoBi’s yearly information event for foresters managing those forest areas that contain one of the 135 plots, a Marteloscope training exercise was conducted with 10 foresters from Forst-BW.

Frank Krumm (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL) and Andreas Schuck (European Forest Institute) introduced the Marteloscope concept as a training tool for thinning exercises revealing common challenges and trade-offs in integrative forest management. Marteloscopes are one hectare forest sites where all trees have been numbered, mapped and measured. With the help of the “I+”software that runs on mobile devices, trees can be virtually harvested and retained. Thereby the results of the individual tree selection, namely the ecological and economic consequences, can be immediately displayed, initiating discussions as well as learning processes.

Tree Planting with the Rotary Club

After the international network of the Rotary Club challenged each of its 1.2 million members to plant a tree, 10 clubs from the Bonn area contributed with planting 800 trees – and head of the EFI Bonn office Georg Winkel contributed a speech. On 17th of March 2018, the newest of the Rotary Clubs, RC Bonn International, led the initiative in the Kottenforst, in the Waldau vicinity.

Although temperatures dropped below zero again this past weekend, participants patiently listened to several short speeches and acknowledgements. Georg Winkel was asked to give a short presentation on the benefits of planting trees and their role for a sustainable future. Afterwards, the local forester Sebastian Korintenberg gave some brief instructions for the right planting technique. After everyone was clear on what to do, people had a lot of fun planting the young copper beeches over the course of several hours.

Check out the whole event in pictures here.

European forests at risk: new challenges and possible solutions

by Johanna Strieck & Laura Nikinmaa

The cold Czech winter offered a warm welcome when the participants of the kick-off event of the project “Sustaining and Enhancing the REsilience of European Forest” (SURE) started in Písek, Czech Republic, on 18th of February. More than 50 scientists, practitioners and policy makers from 19 different European countries gathered to exchange experiences with forests risks and related disturbances. Hosted by Pro Silva Bohemica and European Forest Institute, the event was the kick-off for the collaboration towards a European Forest Risk Facility.