Experiences of uneven-aged forest management in the Czech Republic

by Pavel Bednář, Andreas Schuck and Alexander Held

Risks to our forests are increasing due to climate change and its consequences. Recently, we have seen a raising number of wind storms, wildfire and bark beetle outbreaks. Thus there is a need to find feasible options to adapt forest management to such developments. Especially homogeneous coniferous forest stands both in tree species composition and age have shown to become vulnerable.

On the 25th and 26th of October 2018 Pro Silva Bohemica invited forest and nature conservation managers, researchers, forest owners and policy representatives from the Czech Republic and other European countries including Austria, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland to share their experiences on transforming pure even-aged Norway spruce stands into uneven-aged mixed forests. Around 110 participants attended the conference in Fryšava pod Žákovou horou about 2 hours’ south-east of Prague. The importance of both the topic and the workshop was underlined by the official patronage of Miroslav Toman, the Czech Minister of Agriculture.

Ecoclimate teleconnections: the globalization of plants

You thought that humans were the only species that can affect areas far away from where they live? Think again. The forests in India might be the culprits of the rainy days you are having in Germany now.

Recent research has shown that forests and vegetation in general can control the weather across great distances, making the forests and climate even more interconnected than previously thought according to an article published in Quantamagazine. Plants, especially trees, are fascinating organisms: they pump up water from the soil to the atmosphere and simultaneously grab carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into themselves and soils. The features that make this transportation possible are tiny pores on the leaves’ surface, called the stomata. One leaf can have more than one million stomata. So in a large forest the number of stomata is stratospheric and the amount of water they pump can be trillions of liters!

The growing group of researchers studying the interactions between vegetation and climate can now estimate how a forest loss or gain in a certain area can sway the weather patterns in others. One of these scientists is Professor Abigail Swann, the head of the Ecoclimate Lab in the University of Washington. In her recent studies, she has found the teleconnection: the plant communities around the globe are connected by the atmospheric mechanics. Essentially, the effect is similar to that of El Niño, where the warm surface water in the East Pacific Ocean causes heavy rains in South America and Africa as well as drought in Southeast Asia and Australia.

Forest risks in India: drought and extreme heat

“With drought and heat posing individual threats [to forests], there is also the looming threat of frequent ‘double whammies’ of drought and heat: concurrent drought and heatwaves, across India and the globe”, says a recent Nature study introduced by science writer Sandhya Sekar on the conservation and environmental science news platform Mongobay.

According to Sekar, “the response of vegetation to a combination of drought and stress is complex, ranging from short-lived local mortality events to regional-scale forest die-offs. A variety of forest types have shown mortality in the face of concurrent heat and drought: dry savannas which are adapted to seasonal rainfall, coniferous forests with a Mediterranean climate to tropical rainforests.”

Irish Marteloscopes: exploring new cooperation opportunities

by Ted Wilson

The Annual Pro Silva Ireland forestry tour 2018 was heading towards Obernai, France where the French National Forest Office’s (ONF) silviculture trainer Marc-Etienne Wilhelm hosted the “Irish forestry invasion” for 3 days. A total of 27 members of Pro Silva Ireland participated in the tour, indicating the strength of interest in continuous cover forestry (CCF) among Irish foresters, forest ecologists and woodland owners at the present time.

As a participant in the tour, I (Ted Wilson) took the opportunity to extend my travels and visit the Martelscope training sites at Mooswald and Rosskopf, near Freiburg, Black Forest, Germany. My work is based at the Teagasc Forestry Development Department, Ashtown Research Centre, and at the School of Agriculture and Food Science (Forestry Section), University College Dublin, both in Dublin, Ireland. My current research focuses on CCF, and my main project is called TranSSFor. This deals with the transformation of Sitka spruce plantations to continuous cover forestry. Related to silvicultural and production objectives of the research project is the issue of training, which was the focus of a highly productive meeting with Alex Held and Andreas Schuck, who are with the European Forest Institute.

Wuthering heights – how to manage storms in forests?

by Andreas Schuck, Alexander Held, Christoph Hartebrodt, Laura Nikinmaa, and Jakob Hörl

When storms are expected to become more frequent and violent, how can we ensure a flourishing future for our forests and the people who depend on them? This was one of the main questions that the SURE project workshop “Res2Storm – pan-European Workshop on Wind, Storms, and Forests” aimed at answering. The objective was to map operational tools and processes for coping with storm events along the crisis management cycle. Emphasis was given to the phases ‘recovery’, ‘prevention/mitigation’ and ‘preparedness’, not neglecting adequate ‘response’. The workshop was hosted by Christoph Hartebrodt and his team from the Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg (FVA) in Freiburg, Germany, on the 11-12th of October 2018. It was the first in a series of thematic workshops within the SURE project dealing with forest risks. It brought together 35 participants from 13 European countries with backgrounds in science, policy and practice.

Future global forest governance: Learning across generations

This summer, office temperatures soared, the fan was blowing full throttle and my afternoon ice cream melted faster than I could eat it. I was not the only one under severe heat stress though. As I looked from my office window, I could see that the consistently high temperatures had affected trees and vegetation. Leaves had changed color and treetops looked thinner. The dry and hot weather in Germany and beyond since May also made forest fires inevitable. This year all of Europe suffered from peat and forest fires that started earlier and burned for longer than normal.

These are worrisome observations for me as individual and as junior scientist. Given the scale of deforestation and forest degradation globally, which is one underlying cause of rising emissions and a changing global climate, I feel uncertain about what and how my contribution could look like in addressing an issue of the scale of deforestation and forest degradation.

I feel the urgency to act when I observe consequences of 1°C of global warming, but also because in the future, we will be more people on our planet. More people who require food, jobs and strive for higher living conditions. This will add even more pressure on forest ecosystems and possibly cause further degradation. To interrupt this vicious circle and to make forests more resilient to these threats globally, I think we need to have a rules-based framework at the global level that addresses these challenges effectively. Something that gives guidance and regulates any illegal, destructive and harmful activities that affect forests – and ultimately us.

SURE Projekt “on tour”: Waldbrand-Reise nach Brandenburg

von Martin Schmitt, Andreas Schuck und Alexander Held

Zwei der zahlreichen Brände in der Saison 2018 erfuhren besondere Aufmerksamkeit: Treuenbrietzen und Fichtenwalde bei Beelitz in Südbrandenburg. In Treuenbrietzen mussten drei Ortschaften geräumt. In Fichtenwalde wurde es notwendig, zwei Autobahnen (A9/A10) zu sperren. Die Situation wurde zusätzlich dadurch erschwert, dass beide Waldbrandflächen munitionsbelastet waren.

Im Rahmen einer Schulung für die “Berliner Feuerwehr Einsatzbereitschaft 4” waren wir (Andreas Schuck und Alexander Held vom EFI) in Berlin-Brandenburg unterwegs.

The symmetry of competition: does the battle take place above or below our feet?

In this article, I talk about the “mode of competition”, in other words whether trees of different species compete more of aboveground or belowground resources when growing in mixed stands. Additionally, I highlight the advantage of mixed forests in the context of climate change.

If you have read some of my articles like What factors determine whether tree species compete or complement each other?, you know how much I like mixed forests. Forests rich in tree species not only are known for providing higher levels of ecosystem services but also be prompter to cope with unexpected disturbances and climatic changes. However, the mechanisms of competitions in multi-species forests are all but clear. Scientists are still studying which combinations of tree species grow better in a particular environment or what factor promote or reduce a positive growth complementarity in secondary forests and/or plantations. In one of my latest posts on the blog Forest Monitor I have tried to explain in simple terms the concept of how complementarity for a give species can be positive or negative when growing in association with other species depending on resource availability.

A unique database providing information to quantify the adaptive capacity of beech to climate change

A contribution by Marta Benito & Thomas Matthew Robson

A group of researchers from all over Europe worked together to release a unique database to the scientific community. Assembling data collected under the auspices of an EU Cost Action, the database BeechCOSTe52 gathers over 860,000 measurements of phenotypic traits. These data, from more than 500,000 beech trees growing in plantations located in 38 European countries, cover the entire range of beech’s distribution. Over 15 years of work have gone into producing the database; a vital resource for analyzing and understanding the beech’s adaptive capacity to climate change and the potential effects of climate on its distribution range.

Für die Praxis: das “Verbissprozent”

Ich möchte den Leserinnen und Lesern dieses Blogs ein Merkblatt für die Praxis aus der Schweiz (WSL) empfehlen, das ich relevant finde für die pan-europäischen Themen Waldumbau, resilienter Wald, klimastabiler Wald, Bergschutzwald, etc.
Kürzlich hat u.a. der Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) über starken Verbiss an Laubbäumen und die entsprechenden Schäden im Harz berichtet: Waldschäden: zu viel Rotwild im Harz. Der Beitrag gibt ebenfalls einen guten Überblick über die Thematik.

Das Verbissprozent – eine Kontrollgröße im Wildmanagement
Wildhuftiere nutzen hauptsächlich im Winter junge Bäume als Nahrungsquelle. Der wiederholte Verbiss von Knospen, Nadeln und jungen Trieben schwächt die Verjüngung oder verhindert sie sogar. Das stellt unter Umständen die nachhaltige Erneuerung des Waldes mit standortsgemäßen Baumarten in Frage. An den Standort optimal angepaßte Baumarten können je nach Standort verschiedene sein: Ein Beispiel wäre der Bergmischwald im Schwarzwald aus Tanne, Buche, Ahorn, Fichte als Hauptbaumarten. Wie stark die Tiere einen Wildlebensraum beeinträchtigen, lässt sich mit dem “Verbissprozent” messen. Das Verbissprozent ist der prozentuale Anteil der Jungbäume mit abgebissenen Pflanzenteilen. Ermittelt wird dieses Prozent für ganze Wildlebensräume und über einen Zeitraum von mehreren Jahren.

Das Verbissprozent ist eine Grösse, die als Ziel im Wald-Wild-Management oder als gesetzliche Auflage gewählt werden kann und objektiv messbar ist. Eine gebräuchliche Form des Verbissprozentes ist der prozentuale Anteil der Bäume zwischen 10 und 130 cm Höhe, bei dem im Verlaufe eines Jahres der Terminaltrieb (der Leittrieb, also verantwortlich für das gerade Höhenwachstum) abgebissen wird. Die Erhebung des Jahresverbisses erlaubt es, Veränderungen von Jahr zu Jahr festzustellen und im Rahmen von Erfolgskontrollen die Wirkung der getroffenen Massnahmen zu überprüfen. Die Massnahmen zur Senkung der Verbissbelastung selbst können ganz unterschiedlicher Art sein: Sie reichen von der Art der Bejagung über die Gestaltung des Lebensraumes, der Förderung von Luchs und Wolf, der land- und forstwirtschaftlichen Nutzung der Landschaft bis zur Lenkung von Tourismus und Freizeitaktivitäten im Wald und der Ausgestaltung der Raumplanung. Weitere Infos hier: Verbissprozent_CH_Merkblatt_WSL_2018_08

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