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Category: Forest Risks

Navigating the World of Resilience

As the Resilience Programme of the European Forest Institute, we are looking for evidence-based ways to improve resilience in the European forests. However, a brief discussion in the office revealed that even among our staff there are almost as many interpretations of resilience as there are staff-members. We needed to have a clearer understanding on what resilience means in the context of forestry.

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Adapting forests to climate change: methods, tools, and projects

What does climate change adaptation look like in Southern France? Is there anything we – in Central Europe – can learn from our colleagues in the South? Is risk management an issue there and do forest risk experts know the European Forest Risk Facility?

These were the questions – among others – that I had before attending the international symposium “Adapting forests to climate change: methods, tools, and projects” on 19-20 November 2019 in Toulouse, France.

The symposium was organized by the FORECCAST project, partially funded through the EU LIFE project,  aiming to provide Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park producers and forest managers with means to build a forest management strategy that takes into account the impact of climate change. Goal of the project is to raise awareness of the challenges posed by global change among stakeholders, elected representatives and the general public within that region.

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How and why prescribed burning mitigates bushfire losses

by Neil Burrows and Rick Sneeuwjagt

Considerable publicity is recently being given to an article by titled “Why prescribed burns don’t stop wildfires” (published in Sydney Morning Herald, in New Matilda, and also WAToday on 22 January 2020), written by a botanist and a molecular biologist from Curtin University in Western Australia. They argue against the use of fuel reduction burning in bushfire management because it does not “stop bushfires”.

The article worries us, because in our opinion it could give rise to dangerous fire management policies, a continuation of the cycle of devastating bushfires in Australia, and to further losses of lives and beautiful forests.

Thus we decided to write a reply to the publication, to clarify some facts and spread important information on prescribed burning based on scientific research and practical experience.

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“Unser Wald im Klimawandel” – Kurzfilm zur Waldbewirtschaftung in NRW

Die Landesregierung NRW hat einen kurzen Film veröffentlicht, in dem der Zustand unserer Wälder in NRW näher beleuchtet wird. Dabei geht es auch um die kurz- sowie langfristigen Maßnahmen des NRW-Umweltministeriums, um diesen Zustand zu verbessern.

Ein Drittel der Fläche von NRW ist mit Wäldern bedeckt. Diese werden nach dem forstlichen Nachhaltigkeitsprinzip bewirtschaftet, aber die durch den Klimawandel ausgelösten Veränderungen stellen große Schwierigkeiten für die Forstwirtschaft dar. Dazu gehören vor allem Stürme, Trockenheit und Borkenkäfer, aber auch viele andere Herausforderungen.

Im Video werden kurz- sowie langfristige Hilfen für die Waldbesitzer vorgestellt – und viele weitere Informationen und digitale Karten über unsere Wälder sind auf dem neuen Waldinfo-Portal https://www.waldinfo.nrw.de/ zu finden.

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Bushfires, Wildfires and Damaging fires – Rinse and Repeat or Risk Reduction and Resilience?

Dr. Peter F. Moore, Forestry Officer, Forest Fire Management & Disaster Risk Reduction, in the FAO-Forestry Department originates from Australia and posted the following statement in response to the ongoing wildfire crisis:

“In January 1994 there were four fire related deaths, hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt and fingers of fire crept into the city of Sydney.

  • Parliament, the cabinet and the coroner held inquiries and released reports on the reasons, causes of death and the possible means of avoiding the same problems in the future.

On Christmas Day 2001, the concerns of fire authorities in New South Wales were realised – in full measure. The lead-up to summer conditions had been drier than normal. December 25, 2001 was hot with temperatures well over 30C; very low humidity of less than 15 per cent; and winds from the west. These bush fires burnt nearly 700,000ha, with 115 houses and many other buildings destroyed and scores of others damaged.

  • And Parliament and the coroner held inquiries and released reports on the reasons and the causes …
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The potential of recovering degraded pine forests

by Alessandra Lagomarsino

Did you know that worldwide forests each year absorb 30% of the CO2 emitted globally by fossil fuels and are huge carbon sinks, thus contributing to climate change mitigation and storing carbon in different pools (i.e., biomass, soil, dead organic matter, or litter)? However, when a forest is degraded with many dead, fallen and damaged trees, it does not remove enough CO2 from the atmosphere to compensate the emissions due to the decomposition of dead trees and soil organic matter.

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Networks of trust – the foundation for wildfire management

Written by Laura Nikinmaa & Maria Schlossmacher

Imagine having a team of chefs cooking Eggs Benedict. One of them has only ever made omelets; the other one has all the ingredients but no recipe. The third one knows how to do it, but they have been forbidden to cook anything else than scrambled eggs by the owner of the restaurant. On top of everything, they are not talking to one another because they are all competing for promotion. The outcome? You guessed it, anything but Eggs Benedict, the restaurant owner is enraged, and none of the chefs gets a promotion.

While the restaurant world is known to be fiery, the actual world of wildfires is straight up in flames. We have seen abnormally active fire season in 2019 in many countries. Poland had almost three times more fires compared to the 10-year average this year, Germany more than five times more, and France more than seven times more (EFFIS). The cherry on top was the United Kingdom, which had eight times more fires in 2019 than in the 10-year average. It was therefore fitting that the SURE project workshop (“pro-active fire management”) was organized back to back with the England and Wales Wildfire Forum’s (EWWF) Wildfire Conference from 20th to 22nd of November in Cardiff, Wales. The EWWF conference had more than 180 participants from 14 different countries, out of which almost 50 stayed to participate in the SURE workshop on the 22nd. The theme of the conference was “Manage the fuel – Reduce the Risk”. The speakers consisted of experts from practice and research, from fire and rescue services to forest administrates, and the topics varied from practical examples to the latest knowledge we have on wildfire behavior.

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Bitten by the same bug – German spruce in jeopardy

“Scientists alarmed by bark beetle boom” (ScienceDaily, 2019), “French forests scarred as heatwaves bring bark beetle infestation” (Euronews, 2019a), “Czech forest owners face $1.7 billion loss this year from bark beetle crisis” (Euronews, 2019b) and finally “Merkel promises €500m to revitalise German forests” (Guardian, 2019) – these were only some of the many forest-related headlines in European news in the past months.

It is obvious: How weather affects our forests, would not have made it to the news ten years ago – but following the unprecedented hot temperatures, long dry spells as well as severe storm events in Central Europe, everybody was talking about the state of our forests. These extreme weather events are a not only a huge burden for human health but also for entire natural ecosystems. In Germany, extreme temperatures contributed to the extremely dire state of about 180,000 ha of forested area and taxpayer support of 800 million Euros for reforestation measures (FAZ, 2019). In the past, evolution gave flora and fauna the opportunity to adapt to changing environmental conditions and climates but the pace and scale of climatic changes that we experience today, give our natural world a mountain to climb, regardless of the money thrown at the problem.

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Integrating nature protection into forest management the Danish way

Did you know that Denmark has a relatively low forest cover of 14 percent, but nonetheless has great ambitions regarding the ecosystem services they wish those forests to provide? All the more reason to understand more about how they integrate different forest functions into forest management.

I had the chance to find out more about Danish sustainable forest management – or Close-to-Nature Silviculture, as the Danes would call their particular brand – when I participated in the most recent meeting of the European Network INTEGRATE , which is currently chaired by the Danish Nature Agency.

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EFI Bonn looking for a PhD Researcher on Perceptions of Wildfire Risks

The European Forest Institute (EFI) is now looking for a PhD Researcher on understanding perceptions of wildfire risks and related land management at its Bonn, Germany, office.

Deadline for the application is 16 December 2019 COB.

The objectives of the research are:
• To analyse perceptions of fire risk and related concepts of fire (risk) management in different regional and sectoral contexts across Europe amongst a) fire and land management experts, b) land owners and managers in different regional settings;
• To enhance learning and generate transferable knowledge on risk and its management through interconnecting experts across regional contexts.

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