forest fire in Sweden

“HELP! Our forests are burning!” – “But what kind of help do you need?”

The heatwave across central and northern Europe is preparing the ground for a severe wildfire season. Normally mostly green vegetation is turning into “fuel” in countries normally not affected by serious fire problems. Hereby I am referring to countries not prepared for a wildfire season (compared to the Mediterranean areas, who are dealing with frequent forest fires), despite the climate change scenarios and increasing risks and disturbance predictions.

We have reported here on this blog about the fire situation and early warning systems in the UK, Ireland, and Germany already. Now Scandinavia is receiving a lot of media attention. Sweden for instance is calling for international assistance:

Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle as Sweden calls for help. Sweden worst hit as hot, dry summer sparks unusual number of fires, with at least 11 in the far north” (source: The Guardian) or

“Swedish firefighters were still battling 49 different wildfires across the country on Thursday afternoon, and in some areas residents have been asked to leave for their safety. Here’s where evacuations have taken place.” (source: The Local)

 

As we can see from this and most other media articles, reports focus on the weather, the heat and fires and smoke and on helicopters as well as water-bombing aircraft. And that is what you need in a out-of-control fire situation: Hit the fire fast and hard. And for that you need resources like planes, absolutely.

However, what I do miss in most news articles is the fact that the crisis management cycle has more phases than just the response. Is that single focused reporting maybe a reason for the political ignorance of urgent needs for prevention and mitigation?

Close-To-Nature Forestry across Europe

A short report on the annual Pro Silva Europa meeting in Weimar, Germany

Pro Silva is a European federation of professional foresters across 24 European countries (and more recently in New England, USA) who advocate and promote Pro Silva Close to Nature Forest Management Principles as an alternative to age-class forestry to create and maintain resilient forest ecosystems. Increasing forest resilience was also the motivation to create Pro Silva 29 years ago.

This year, the annual meeting was hosted by ANW Thuringia and the state forest administration of Thuringia in and around the city of Weimar on 20-23 June 2018. The Pro Silva Program addressed topics such as forest conversion from age-class to continuous-cover forestry, re-introduction of silver fir (and other climate-change-relevant tree species) and the ungulate-silviculture challenge of converting European forests to more biodiverse, stable and resilient forests.

How much CO2 can urban forests store?

A new University College London (UCL) study, published in Carbon Balance and Management, used publicly-available airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data collected by the UK Environment Agency, combined with ground-based LiDAR measurements, to generate a map of carbon stored in an estimated 85,000 trees across the London Borough of Camden.

According to the researchers, urban forest can contain as much carbon as tropical rainforests. They found that areas such as Hampstead Heath store up to 178 tonnes of carbon per ha, in comparison to the median value for tropical rainforests of 190 tonnes of carbon per ha.

“The trees in our cities are important. They matter because they are close to people and are a key component of our urban environment providing beauty, shade and homes for myriad species as well as absorbing carbon and pollutants. The work being carried out at UCL is adding color and detail to this understanding,” said Sir Harry Studholme, Chair of the Forestry Commission.

LiDAR uses millions of laser pulses to build a very detailed picture of the 3D structure of trees. This allows the team to accurately estimate how much carbon the trees have absorbed via photosynthesis during their lives. It also allows them to estimate the carbon sink provided by urban trees, important for helping to offset fossil fuel emissions.

See related articles:

UK urban forest can store as much carbon as tropical rainforests

Urban ‘forests’ can store almost as much carbon as tropical rainforests

Deconstructing a complex future for the forest-based sector

Informed decision-making requires information from both past experiences and knowledge about the future. This also applies to forest-based sector – especially when considering challenges like climate change mitigation or biodiversity conservation. While the future can be difficult to predict, one way to analyse it is to use scenario-planning methods. However, the use of scenario is also a process of priority-setting, more specifically, scenarios are a reflection of sectoral, public and other development priorities. Having this in mind, the paper Deconstructing a complex future: Scenario development and implications for the forest-based sector which is published in Forest Policy and Economics reviews how the use of scenarios may affect EU forest-related policy.

Planted Forests in Colombia @Forest Finance

Bonn-based green investment company planted ten millionth tree

Since 1995, the Bonn-based German expert for green impact investing ForestFinance has been planting forests in the project countries Panama, Peru, Colombia and Vietnam. Now, the reforestation company has just planted its ten millionth tree.

“In 2009, we planted and celebrated our millionth tree in Panama City in the presence of the Panamanian Minister of Environmental Affairs. Today – nine years later – we have increased this number tenfold. We have achieved this together with over 19,000 customers and environmentally conscious investors,” explains Harry Assenmacher, founder of the ForestFinance Group.

Programms of afforestation to create forests increase carbon capture and carbon sequestration, and help to anthropogenically improve biodiversity.

Neugier genügt im WDR 5 – Georg Winkel über den Wald in 100 Jahren

Was bedeutet Resilienz, wie sieht der Wald in 100 Jahren aus und wann ist ein Baum eigentlich so richtig alt? Diese und mehr Fragen beantwortete Georg Winkel Mitte Mai in einem Interview im WDR 5. In dem Interview mit Moderator Jürgen Wiebicke erzählt der Leiter des Resilience Programmes des European Forest Institute (EFI) nicht nur von seinem (neuen) Lieblingswald in Oberwinter mit den alten Bäumen und der fast schon romantischen Atmosphäre, sondern auch von den Konsequenzen des Klimawandels auf europäische Wälder und diskutiert darüber, wie man den ökonomischen Wert des Waldes bemessen kann.

Unusual Record: UK burnt area largest in Europe – so far

Thanks to the careful observation of colleagues at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) we are able to report an unusual “record”: As of 11 June 2018, the largest burnt forest area in this year so far in Europe can be found in the United Kingdom. We are looking at 8049 ha of burnt area  that is more than the combined burnt area of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy together.

Modern storms, modern technologies – is AI the future of forest risk management?

Strengthening weaknesses is one of the starting points in any management or developing plan, but what to do when even identifying them is tricky? Such is the problem forest managers often face while trying to predict and prevent storm damages to forests. The current models to predict storm damages suffer from lack of data, and the expected increase of severe storms caused by climate change adds its own spice to the mix.

Costa Rica: First Central American satellite to monitor forest growth

The Central American Association for Aeronautics and Space (ACAE) and the Costa Rican Institute of Technology (TEC) successfully launched the first CubeSat technology satellite to daily monitor carbon fixation, biomass and environmental variables in a beechwood tree plantation in the northern region of Costa Rica.

Daily tree growth is measured with electronic dendrometers. This information is synchronized with a data aggregator that stores the information to be transmitted to the satellite. This includes weather, solar radiation and soil moisture conditions. This then reaches the ground station, mission control, and a data visualization center, which processes the scientific data to make it available to the public.

Proyecto Irazú was supported through sponsoring companies, government contributions and donations received through Kickstarter. TEC students worked hand in hand with scientists from NASA, the Kyushu Institute of TechnologyDelft University of Technology and Ad Astra Rocket.

Read the full article here.

Can forests be legal entities?

It seems obvious to most of us that specific species, animals, and plants, are protected by special laws and regulations. However, it is getting less natural when we talk about rivers, forests or trees as legal entities. Or maybe rather opposite?

The Guardian has recently published an article “It’s only natural: the push to give rivers, mountains, and forests legal rights” where author Jane Gleeson-White describes a recent tendency in the Western environmental legal system. “This new approach to environmental law was introduced in the US by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, whose first success came in 2006”, writes Gleeson-White. The discussion about legal rights for the environment and its elements, during last ten years, has exceeded debates within environmental philosophy and anthropology and happened to be a focal point of many social movements.