Uncovering the hidden potential – how European forests can be adapted to climate change

The European forest sector phases numerous demands and challenges, and the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change might just be the biggest one of them. The issue is well acknowledged in high-level speeches but not much is known about what happens at the regional or local scale. What are the specific issues, how they are dealt with and by whom? To breach this gap, the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) established a Focus Group in spring 2017. 20 experts from different European countries with practical experience and technical knowledge were selected to reflect on the question “Which new management practices and tools can improve the climate mitigation and adaptation potential of EU forests?” The group consisted of farmers, foresters, land- owners, researchers and advisors. During 2018, the Focus Group produced 10 mini-papers that cover the important aspects of forest practices and climate change. The final report of their work was coordinated by Dr. Marcus Lindner  from the European Forest Institute (EFI) and published on the 8th of January 2019. You can read the report here.

Participation and Integration – Forest Management in Slovenia

Simon Poljanšek, you are the new Slovenian national focal point for the European Network INTEGRATE. Would you please introduce yourself?

Simon Poljansek
Simon Poljansek

Growing up on a small farm, surrounded by forest and animals, it was easy for me to connect with nature and outdoor activities, road cycling, photography, animals, and becoming a family man. An obvious choice was to study at the University of Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty, Department for Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources. I successfully finished my studies there with a rewarded diploma thesis on the analysis of the amount and structure of deadwood in Slovenian forests. My education continued with a doctoral thesis on dendrochronological investigation of Black pine (Pinus nigra Arnold) in the Balkan Peninsula, which I conducted at the Slovenian Forestry Institute. I used different tree-ring parameters (widths, density and stable isotopes) to investigate the influence of climate (temperature, sunshine, precipitation, river hydrology) or other extreme events (forest fires) on trees, growing in various environments from mountainous sites to urban surroundings.

What are you currently working on in the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food?

The knowledge obtained on this path I described above is now used for monitoring contents and procedures of forest management plans, and assessing forest resources. Furthermore, I use my scientific experience to review targeted research projects, and to collaborate with my team in the development of the “LULUCF” national forestry accounting plan. Finally, a crucial part of my work is to cooperate in different governmental and other institutional associations with the aim of developing system solutions for the sustainable development of forests ecosystems, resilience and biodiversity, alongside with environmental, production and social forests functions.

Borkenkäfer – Fluch oder Segen für unseren Wald in NRW?

2018 war ein katastrophales Jahr für den Wald in NRW – das zeigt auch der kürzlich publizierte Waldzustandsbericht.  Landesumweltministerin Ursula Heinen-Esser kommentierte dazu: “Unsere Wälder sind in einem besorgniserregenden Zustand. Denn durch das Zusammenwirken von Sturm im Frühjahr, gefolgt von extremer Sommertrockenheit und anschließend starkem Borkenkäferbefall in den Nadelwäldern sind die Schäden in diesem Jahr erheblich.” Die massive Population des Borkenkäfers wird derzeit kontrovers diskutiert. Besonders betroffen von dem Befall in NRW sind der Bonner Kottenforst, das Vorgebirge und das Naafbachtal. Laut Regionalforstamt Rhein-Sieg ist die Population des Borkenkäfers so hoch wie seit 1947 nicht mehr.

Während Naturschützer in dem starken Borkenkäferbefall eine regelrechte Bereicherung für die Entwicklung des Waldes sehen, argumentiert auf der Gegenseite die Forstwirtschaft, dass der aktuelle Befall dem Wald langfristig schade, weil er dazu führe, dass ganze Bestände aussterben.

Begünstigt durch den trockenen Sommer konnte sich der kleine Käfer erheblich vermehren. Der BUND (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland) beschreibt den Populationsschub als Zeugnis der Selbstheilungskräfte des Waldes. Dieser sei damit nicht nur in der Lage, sich an die klimabedingten Veränderungen anzupassen, indem er sich von einem Nadelforst hin zu einem Naturwald entwickele, sondern die Borkenkäfer bedeuten dem BUND zufolge auch einen Nahrungszuwachs für viele Tiere, wie etwa den Specht.

Diese durch den Borkenkäferbefall ausgelösten Veränderungen, die von Naturschützern so positiv bewertet werden, sieht die Forstwirtschaft mit starken Bedenken. Deswegen wurden in den vergangenen Monaten viele Hektar Wald kahlgeschlagen, um der Ausbreitung des Borkenkäfers entgegenzuwirken. Der BUND kritisiert dieses Vorgehen der Forstwirtschaft, da im Zuge der starken Abholzung auch der Waldboden und somit die Lebensgrundlage der Bäume gefährdet würden.

Mehr Hintergrund zu dem Thema und weiterführende Artikel hier:

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 06.01.2019

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 29.12.2018

Pressemitteilung von Wald und Holz NRW, 31.10.2018

BUND Statement zum Borkenkäfer-Befall im Bayerischen Wald


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.

Ökologischer Waldumbau in deutschem Grafenwald

Von Fichtenwald zu Mischwald, von purem Holzeinschlag zu ökologischem Campingplatz und Waldfriedhof – die Grafenfamilie von Hatzfeld setzt seit über 20 Jahren ein beeindruckendes Waldumbau-Projekt um. Mit den Herausforderungen für WaldbesitzerInnen in Deutschland, mit der Balance zwischen Holzernte und Artenschutz, mit Sturmschäden und sogenannten”Ökosystemdienstleistungen” beschäftigt sich die spannende SWR-Dokumentation Die Waldgrafen und der Sturm – Familie von Hatzfeldt erfindet ihren Forst neu. Der etwa 30-minütige Film nimmt dabei sowohl Aspekte der nachhaltigen und vielfältigen Waldnutzung als auch Naturschutz sowie das Ziel der langfristigen Resilienz des Privatwaldes gegen (klimabedingte) Störungen in den Blick.

Together for forests in sustainable cities

EFI and EFUF combining strengths to facilitate urban forest-based solutions employment in Europe

The majority of Europeans are now living in cities and urban agglomerations, facing several environmental issues – including climate change. However, cities are also major drivers and facilitators in finding solutions for handling these challenges. Urban forests – trees, woodlands and forests in and around cities – can play an important role in the transition towards urban resilience and a green and sustainable economy.

Building on their mutual strengths, the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding strategic collaboration on research and policy in the field of urban forestry on Friday, 30th November 2018. This collaboration will further the understanding of the potential of urban forests, forestry, nature-, and bio-based solutions in supporting the development of sustainable cities. Both organisations will jointly develop a strategic approach to facilitate the employment of urban forest-based solutions in European cities, through coordinated communication, research and development efforts. Throughout the collaboration, EFI’s forest-based scientific experience and its European-wide science-policy network and EFUF’s multidisciplinary network with local authorities, practitioners and researchers will be complementary in developing a stronger discourse on urban forest-based solutions.

A first common initiative developed within the MoU framework, is the launch of the Call for Abstracts for the 22nd session of the European Forum on Urban Forestry in Cologne (Germany). The EFUF2019 conference has been branded “Urban Forests: Full of Energy” and will focus on the role of urban forests as providers of energy, both through woody biomass and through physical activity, art, learning and collaborative working. EFUF is organised at the “Waldlabor” (Forestlab) in Cologne, which is a magnificent place for exchanging knowledge based on participatory science and experiments.

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.

France on the barricade against deforestation

France has just adopted a new national strategy to restrict the import of forest-related products from areas that struggle with deforestation. Contrary to the more positive trends in Europe, the global forest area has decreased by 129 million hectares between 1990 and 2015, according to FAO data. This corresponds to twice the surface of France.

The strategy focuses on three main topics and three regions. The first and biggest problem is the cattle ranching and large-scale soy production in parts of Latin America, leading to vast deforested areas. The import of soy from that region to Europe represents 60% of the import with a high deforestation risk. The main issue in South-East Asia is the replacement of tropical rain forest by unsustainably managed oil palm plantations, accounting for 12% of the high-risk imported goods. Finally, the challenge facing West-Africa is cocoa production, which represents 8% of the problematic import.

These three goods together account for 80% of the deforestation-related import to the EU. The battle against illegally logged timber, thanks to initiatives such as the EUTR, FLEGT, REDD+ and GTTN, is in full swing. We should however not forget that the majority of global deforestation is caused by other consumable goods.

The strategy comprises 17 planned, built around bilateral cooperation, developing road maps and restricting imports from regions at risk of deforestation. The full strategy can be consulted here (in French).

 

 

“Spurring curiosity and appreciation of European forests”

Marc Menningmann (Raute Film)
Credits: Marc Menningmann (Raute Film)

Discussions with young people from across the continent at the European Summer School “Creating Forest Experiences”

To “spur curiosity and appreciation” by putting a proof of origin on forest products – this was only one out of many ideas discussed during the one-week long European Summer School “Creating Forest Experiences”. The event was organized by the Protection of the German Forest Organisation (“Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald”) in Freusburg, Rhineland-Palatinate from 9th – 13th July 2018. Young adults from various backgrounds learned and debated about the economic, ecological and social function of forests. The programme included keynotes and interactive workshops. In the course of the week, the participants developed forest projects on recreation for young people. Furthermore, they created the idea of the “interactive forest path”: a hiking trail where you can choose different options that bring you to distinct parts and stories of the forest.