Deer management for resilient future forests

Across the forest sector in Europe there is broad consensus that resilient forests should regenerate naturally with multiple and different (and site specific) tree species. The more diversity in the regeneration, the better. With a forest use that follows natural processes. By these means, ecological and economic risks are reduced.

Across the forest sector in Europe there is also broad consensus that unbalanced deer densities have a negative effect on tree species composition through selective browsing, bark stripping and fraying.

However, there exists a conflict of interest in different European countries since many years: Should high deer densities for easier hunting be preferred – or should lower deer densities for forest development be favoured? A new dimension is added to this discussion when focusing on biodiversity. Biodiversity of forest systems is seen as an insurance and pre-requisite for resilience with regards to expected climate change. Considering that new dimension, the discussion exceeds the level of forest owner interests vs. hunting interests, it becomes a complex topic for society.

Investigating wildfires: Northern Ireland develops a vegetation fire strategy together with EFI experts

After hundreds of wildfire incidents in Norther Ireland’s countryside, the government decided to take action mid 2017 and operation WildFire was initiated. The operation, lead by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) had the core task to investigate in more depth a number of wildfires. Fires could spread rapidly through dry ground conditions, putting property, public, habitat and species at risk.

African Swine Fever, wild boars and nervous German farmers – no easy solutions for man-made problems

by Frank Krumm & Johanna Strieck & Gesche Schifferdecker

The German Farmers Association (DBV) demands a 70 percent reduction of the wild boar population, after the African Swine Fever is threatening to cross borders in eastern Germany. In case of an outbreak, German pig farmers will face severe economic consequences, as they are the ones with the most to lose. DBV’s vice president Werner Schwarz explains, that the farmers will have to stop exporting pork products to third-member countries, meaning non-EU members. This will cause for substantial losses in the export sector, possibly amounting to billions of Euros.
Consequently, this sparked an outcry from the DBV. The Swine Fever, like many other diseases, thrives on high host density, so that a radical population reduction in wild boars is the only logical answer according to Schwarz.  This demand is not only drastic but also rather unrealistic, knowing the animals and their intelligent and strong population dynamics.

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.

Marcus Ittermann, LoCom Media (links) und Georg Winkel (EFI Bonn)

Podcast: Resilienz-Forschung zum Wald

Was bedeutet ‘Resilienz’ im Kontext Wald, und was macht das European Forest Institute (EFI) eigentlich in Bonn? Diese und mehr Fragen beantwortete Dr. Georg Winkel, Forstwissenschaftler und Leiter des Bonner EFI-Büros in einem spannenden Interview mit dem Lokalradio. Mit ihm sprach der Journalist Marcus Ittermann, Redakteur bei Locom Media.

Die Hauptaufgaben des EFI bestehen darin, sich mit Forschungsfragen zum Thema Wald zu beschäftigen, Ergebnisse dieser Forschung in kondensierter Form in die Politik zu bringen sowie durch gezielte Kommunikations- und Pressearbeit die Öffentlichkeit auf verständliche Art und Weise mit Informationen zu versorgen. Neben diesen Aufgaben nimmt sich das Bonner Büro verstärkt dem Begriff der Resilienz an. “Unser Standort soll als ‘Resilienz-Zentrale” fungieren”, so Winkel. Im Mittelpunkt steht die Fähigkeit der Wälder, sich an Veränderungen anzupassen. “Dies betrifft Themen wie den Klimawandel genauso wie den Naturschutz”, erklärt der Forstwissenschaftler. Klimatische Umstände haben enorme Effekte auf den (europäischen) Wald.  Veränderte Bedürfnisse der Menschen spielen jedoch auch eine wichtige Rolle. Hier liege einer der Knackpunkte.

Introducing: TREX – Multinational Prescribed Fire Training Exchange

The Fire Learning Network (FLN) engages dozens of multi-agency, community-based projects to accelerate the restoration of landscapes that depend on fire to sustain native plant and animal communities. By restoring this balance, the ecological, economic and social values of the landscapes can be maintained, and the threat of catastrophic wildfire can be reduced. Collaborative planning, implementation, adaptive management and the sharing of lessons learned are at the core of the FLN. Workshops, peer learning and innovative fire training through Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges​ (TREX) are just a few of the mechanisms the network uses.

While FLN projects have often worked from the wildlands in toward human communities, the new Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network​—based on the FLN model—works from communities outward into the surrounding landscape.  Participants in these complementary networks all have a common desire to learn, as well as to share their results and insights with one another to overcome barriers to sustainable and integrated ecological, economic and social solutions.

A great example of the added value of cooperation and sharing is Portugal 2017, where an intense Fire Training Exchange took place (check out AltoMinhoTREX report). This seems like a role model that the European Forest Risk Facility could combine with the Exchange of Experts (EoE Forest) tool, not only in fire management but for the wider forest disturbance and risk arena.

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 Anna Begemann, Lukas Gießen, Theresa Cashore, Camilla Dolriis, Jo Van Brusselen, Yitagesu Tekle, Jussi Viitanen, and Gesche Schifferdecker, all EFI. 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.