Forest in sight!

The Kottenforst, a forest of over 4000 hectares large that together with the Siebengebirge on the opposite side of the Rhine, holds Bonn in a green embrace. So close yet so unknown to some. The Kottenforst dominates and clearly delineates the west of the city, perched on the Venusberg, a southern hill of the Ville massif. It is even visible from our EFI office.

Buchpräsentation: Das Trittsteinkonzept – Naturschutz-integrative Waldbewirtschaftung schützt die Vielfalt der Waldarten

Das Thema Waldnaturschutz spaltet Waldschützer und Waldnutzer. Dabei sollten gerade diese an einem Strang ziehen und im Interesse der Waldökologie zusammenarbeiten. Es reicht nicht aus, 5% der Waldfläche Deutschlands aus der Nutzung zu nehmen. Schutzmaßnahmen für unsere Waldarten müssen auch auf den restlichen 95% gewährleistet werden. Das sogenannte ‘Trittsteinkonzept’ ist dafür ein guter Weg –  und die Elemente des Konzepts lassen sich in allen Wäldern umsetzen.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Forest Trends in Denmark – Interview with Mogens Krog

How does the Danish Nature Agency address the trend of rewilding? What are the plans to transition managed forests into forest biodiversity reserves in Denmark – and what are the expected benefits and challenges? We discussed these and other questions with Mogens Krog, Deputy forest officer at the Danish Nature Agency.

Mogens Krog
Mogens Krog

Mogens, rewilding is a trend in Denmark now – who are the ones who argue for large connected wild nature areas and no further management? And what is the approach of the Danish Nature Agency?
In Denmark there is a growing interest among nature conservationists and nature conservation NGO’s for large connected wild nature with large herbivores (plant eater). A large area in a Danish context is considered to be 500 ha. Some argue for re-introduction of species which have been part of nature in Denmark in pre-historic time, e.g. wild horses, European bison, moose, and even elephants. Others find domestic animals such as cattle and horses, sufficient to create natural disturbances in nature areas for the benefit of biodiversity.
Denmark is a much regulated landscape with agriculture covering more than 60 % of the land area. Therefore, it may be relative expensive to include private land in rewilding projects  Also, in order to avoid major conflicts with agricultural interests, rewilding is likely to be limited to large fences. State owned land is the focus of rewilding interests. In Denmark, state owned land is primarily managed by the Danish Nature Agency under the Ministry of the Environment and Food and covers app. 5% of the total land area in Denmark (210.000 ha).

About the forest, trends and sneakers

How can we approach young urban populations and inform them about the importance of forest use and protection? The easiest way might be to connect an important function of the forest and an important part of their life: recreation.

When we asked the participants of the “Mighty Forest Event” on Saturday, September 15th in Düsseldorf, what the forest means to them, said young urban population confirmed this connection. We were happy to hear numerous statements like “The forest is a place to relax”; “We enjoy the fresh air provided by the trees”; as well as: “I like to walk or do sports in the forest”.

As the name might suggest, the event was all about sneakers and forests. Afew, a fashionable sneakers store in Düsseldorf, designed and produced the sneaker “Mighty Forest” with a few extra details to support reforestation and to raise awareness of the situation of forests worldwide. The release took place in the framework of the “German Forest days” (Deutsche Waldtage), where organizations and institutions all over Germany organized events in and around the forests with a special focus on sports and recreation. The “Mighty forest” was limited to 300 pairs. As part of the project, Afew supports the planting of ten trees with the help of Plant-for-the-Planet for every pair of sneakers they sell. We as European Forest Institute’s Resilience Programme provided the project with the scientific knowledge behind the booklet which educates about crucial forest related facts and accompanied each pair of sneakers.

SINCEREly worth a look!

The European project Spurring INnovations for forest eCosystem sERvices in Europe (SINCERE) is officially launched. SINCERE is a four year project on the variety of ecosystem services provided to people by our forests. Funded through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and coordinated by the European Forest Institute, the project aims at contributing to a potential foundation for a new European forest related policy.

SINCERE is all about ecosystem services related to forests – with a focus on but not limited to European forests. Ecosystem Services in short are goods and services which benefit society. They are multifaceted and reveal themselves in many ways – from economic over material to health and emotional contributions. You can check out our introductory video for a more detailed explanation.

While you may immediately think of carbon sinks, water cycle and wood biomass, forests are also associated with cultural and spiritual benefits.