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.

“We need wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression” – EFI-expert responds to EU’s new rescEU plan

The European summer of 2017 had unprecedented amounts of natural disasters happening simultaneously, such as devastating forest fires in Portugal, immense storms in Germany and Greece an the UK, often followed by severe floods. It is estimated that natural disasters cost EU member states about 360 Billion Euro over the past 40 years, while over 200 people lost their lives in fires, storms and floods in 2017 alone.

Threatened by increasing magnitudes of climate change and destabilized by a lack of resources and cross border coordination, the EU faced the fact that something has to change. To boost Europe’s ability to better deal with natural disasters, the European Commission yesterday launched rescEU, an initiative to improve the European system to tackle natural disasters. The intention is to strengthen European response capacities on the one hand, and (maybe) more importantly to improve cooperation and coherence of disaster prevention and preparedness among European countries on the other hand.

“From the perspective of the European Forest Risk Facility hosted by European Forest Institute we welcome the statement of the commissioner, indeed we support his statement for more cooperation and prevention, hand in hand with adequate response to disasters”, says European Forest Institute’s (EFI) own senior expert on Forest-, Fire-, and Wildlife management Alexander Held.  However, we might have the wrong focus, also reflected in media coverage (like the German ZEIT), which so far focuses on the first aspect: suppression and fire control. A misallocation of money and resources, arisen due to misinformed people with a wish for a political spectacle, according to Held. “Large wildfires only occur through a combination of three things: an ignition, severe fire weather and a large contiguous accumulation of fuel. Take away the factors mankind cannot control, and you are left dealing with the accumulation of fuel – thus preemptive fire management. Broad scale fuel reduction burning (or grazing, mulching, mowing, converting to productive, valuable forest) is the only defense we have against large wildfires”, so Held. “Fire control through water bombers has its place, but is – just like any other case of symptom combating –  ineffective when dealing with large wildfires.”

Make sure you do not miss out on Alexander Held’s full statement on rescEU, as he makes a comprehensive case for allocating resources towards wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression. The statement is based on the expertise of the forest fire manager Held and does not necessarily reflect EFI’s viewpoint as an organization.

 

Under the magnifying glass: Private sector commitment to climate protection

On 14th November 2017, in the context of the COP23, the Senate of the Economy together with the European Forest Institute and ForestFinest held a panel discussion on the private sector’s potential to contribute to climate protection. Prof. Dr. Dr. Franz-Josef Radermacher, president of the senate, gave an inspiring key-note speech on how to combat climate change and satisfy global needs at the same time and with that triggered a lively discussion with his fellow speakers. The speakers included EFI’s own Lukas Giessen, principal scientist on International Forest Governance, Anna Rösinger – director of We Forest and Dirk Walterspacher of ForestFinest Consulting. Dr. Christoph Brüssel, from the Senate of the Economy, moderated the discussion.

“REDDy for more? The future of global forest governance”- EFI Side Event @ COP23 in Bonn

Amongst a number of other European Forest Institute’s side event activities and contributions during the climate #COP23 in Bonn, the Institute organised this side event in the prestigious facilities of its new Bonn office, well-located on the UN campus and next door to the climate negotiations. This joint effort between EFI Bonn, the EFI FLEGT and REDD Unit in Barcelona, and the EFI-coordinated SAFARI project was organised by Dr. Lukas Giessen, Anna Begemann, Theresa Cashore, Camilla Dolriis, and Gesche Schifferdecker, all EFI Bonn. More than 50 participants representing government, international organisations, NGOs, academia as well as private companies and consultancy firms attended this vivid discussion event on 11th November 2017.

The climate deliberations of previous years have clearly shown: Forests are a crucial aspect of global approaches to climate change policy, esp. in the tropics. Persistent deforestation and forest degradation cause a huge amount of carbon emissions, while growing forest stock, legal and sustainable forest management as well as the use of wood-based materials are highly capable of mitigating emissions from multiple sources.

Marteloscope training exercise with students from Bern University of Applied Sciences

A Marteloscope training exercise took place on the 25th of October 2017 in the Sihlwald Marteloscope in Switzerland which is managed by the Wildnispark Zürich.

The course was organised for 20 students from the Bern University of Applied Sciences – School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL). A central aim set by Thibault Lachat (HAFL), Andreas Schuck (EFI) and Frank Krumm (WSL) was to ensure that students learn to make educated decisions by taking into account numerous aspects when managing forest stands. In particular, the workshop focused on how to ensure maintaining biological diversity in managed forests – and dealt with the question of what the gains are and where to make the trade-offs .

First Exchange of Experts of SURE project in Czech Republic – a cooperative learning experience

In Europe, there are almost as many ways to manage forests as there are forest owners. However, many of the challenges they face are the same: how to manage wildlife, how to prevent storm damage and how to ensure successful regeneration in the changing climate, to name just a few. To find the best management practice can be a challenge. One of the most efficient ways to overcome this struggle is to talk to and learn from someone, who has faced a similar problem. European Forest Institute (EFI) and Czech Republic brought together practitioners from different parts of Europe to learn from each other’s experiences in the framework of the SURE (SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forest) project, coordinated by the EFI Bonn office.

Pro Silva Bohemica and the FRISK (European Forest Risk Facility) secretariat at EFI Bonn office organized an Exchange of Experts to Czech Republic in October 2017, where participants from forest services, wildlife management associations and communal forest owners’ association from different parts of Germany, Austria, Ireland and Czech Republic could meet and learn from one another.

The programme included a vast amount of topics. Participants discussed large scale disturbances and forest die-back, practising close-to-nature forestry and transitioning from monoculture to continuous cover forestry as well as the impact of wildlife on forest management. Risk reduction, resilience and mitigating climate change were also reviewed.

Of different challenges that forest managers face, the deer impact on tree regeneration was one of the most prominent one in Czech. Many tree species, especially Silver fir (Abies alba), need long time protection from deer. As protection of seedlings and older trees is costly, there is an interest to establish a better game management plan. One option is to develop an integrated wildlife management plan that could be implemented with the support of EFI.

The Exchange of Experts is part of the SURE project activities.  See the full report here.

Tackling wildfires in Mediterranean forests

Catastrophic forest fires claimed lives this summer across the world, from California to Portugal and Spain. The Mediterranean basin is a global wildfire hotspot and the threat of wildfires to forests and society is expected to increase with climate change.

Scientists from the European Forest Institute (EFI) urge a shift in focus on how we tackle this problem, moving beyond the current emphasis on fire suppression. They argue that the bio-economy offers means to activate management and to demonstrate that forests are a valuable resource, as a smart and sustainable strategy to address the problem of wildfires.

In a new paper published in Forest Policy and Economics, the researchers consider the opportunities offered by a forest-based bio-economy alongside an improved recognition of the value of forests. They suggest a strategic policy shift in favour of fire prevention as part of an integrated forest management strategy, while calling for a shift in mind-set for society to recognise the various ways in which forests provide value.

A comprehensive guide to risk and crisis management

For those, who are interested in practical approaches to risk and crisis management – check out these publications (in German):

The Swiss federal institute for forest, snow and landscape (WSL) is providing a comprehensive collection of its publications, which provides information on risk and crisis management in forestry – Merkblatt für die Praxis. The papers are condensed versions of the institute’s research findings and translated into sets of practical guidelines. They are of interest to practitioners, to forest and environmental delegates as well as to lay persons.

Marteloscope sites: news on EFI’s outdoor forest classroom activities

Marteloscope sites are like outdoor forest classrooms where the trees are numbered, mapped and measured. They can be used to train foresters and other interest groups how different silvicultural measures may affect forest biodiversity and to what extent. Software running on mobile devices allows virtual tree selection exercises and then displays the results. Participants can immediately see the ecological and economic consequences of their choices. Variations in exercise results initiate discussion and stimulate the exchange of experiences and learning.

Andreas Schuck from the EFI Bonn team is conducting training exercises with different stakeholders from the field of forestry, nature conservation, and academia. The latest training took place at the Falkenberg Marteloscope on 16th of October. It is located in the northern Vosges region of France. Twelve participants representing both forestry and nature conservation were introduced to Marteloscopes and their potential applications followed by a virtual tree selection exercise. The exercise asked for selecting habitat trees while removing high quality trees for economic return. Andreas Schuck and Frank Krumm from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) moderated the training jointly with Loïc Duchamp from the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord, France (PNRVN). The same virtual tree selection exercise was implemented by groups of two followed by a brief presentation of results and joint discussion. Habitat and economic valuable trees were then looked at more closely in order to challenge the groups on their decisions.