Happy International Day of Forests!

Written by José Bolaños and Maria Schlossmacher

This year the International Day of Forests (IDF) will address the exciting theme “Forests and Education”. It is an occasion to raise awareness, to inform and to educate a broad public, different stakeholders and forest-managers about forest-related topics.

Forests cover one third of land on Earth, and they perform crucial and vital functions around the world. Trees improve our lives both at a grand scale and at the local level. Despite those benefits, deforestation and consequences of climate change are among other great challenges for forests.

No storm clouds without silver linings

Written by Alexander Held, Andrea Ortiz, Maria Schloßmacher

Two major storms, Eberhard and Franz, hit Germany and so its most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, last week. Experts are still assessing the full extent of the damage, but what is clear: this huge damage will have long-term impacts on forests. It also demonstrates once again the extent of enormous damages that are caused by storms and the related secondary damages like bark beetle infestation. 

Wald-Wild Urteil aus Bayern / Silviculture and deer – an interesting verdict from Bavaria

For English summary please scroll down.

Das höchste Bayerische Verwaltungsgericht hat im November 2018 ein höchstinteressantes Urteil gesprochen. Unter anderem sind drei sehr bedeutsame Positionen herausgearbeitet worden:

  1. Die Jagd hat eine dienende Funktion.
  2. Es gilt der Grundsatz “Wald vor Wild” auch für Eigenjagdbesitzer.
  3. Eine verlässliche Grundlage zur Aufstellung des Abschussplanes ist das “Forstliche Gutachten”.

„Eingeführte Baumarten in europäischen Wäldern: Chancen und Herausforderungen“

Deutsche Übersetzung jetzt verfügbar!

Die Einführung von Baumarten ist ein bedeutendes und zugleich kontroverses Thema. In allen Ländern Europas sind eingeführte Arten einerseits als Chance für die Steigerung der Holzproduktion gesehen und können Alternativen für eine sich unter dem Einfluss des Klimawandels verändernde Artenzusammensetzung in Wäldern darstellen. Andererseits können eingeführte Arten auch die Ursache für den Verlust an Artenvielfalt sein, natürliche Ökosysteme stören und bei ungewünschter Verbreitung hohe Kosten verursachen.

Fire management in Viking style – looking for solutions together

The North is getting hot! Last year with its uncommonly warm and dry spring and summer caused lot of problems to the forest and agricultural sector in the Nordic countries. In addition, Sweden suffered from extensive wildfires. Due to climate change, summers like 2018 might become the new normal. To address this, the Nordic Council of Ministers launched a project group  that is a collaboration between Nordic Agri Research (NKJ) and Nordic Forest Research (SNS). SNS held a workshop “Nordic forestry in times of extreme weather” in Copenhagen, Denmark, on the 1st of March to discuss amongst the participants from the ministries and fire service, how Nordic collaboration could be strengthened to face the new challenges. Laura Nikinmaa from the European Forest Institute’s Resilience Programme was invited to be a guest speaker together with Marc Castellnou from the Pau Costa Foundation and Martin Vendelbo from the Danish Emergency Management Agency.

Coping with the aftermath of storm Vaia in North-East Italy

by Silvia Abruscato, Gherardo Chirici, Giorgio Matteucci, and Davide Pettenella

On October 27-30th 2018, the storm Vaia hit North-eastern Italy with peak winds of 200 km/h, which compares to a very strong hurricane, and very relevant rainfall. Vaia has not only been the largest single windstorm event in recorded history causing serious damages to the forests in Italy. The storm was also a singular event that has raised unprecedented public attention because it hit some of the most beautiful and most productive forests in Italy located in the Dolomites Mountains, where several UNESCO world heritage sites full of history, culture, and traditions are located. Finally, Vaia caused enormous economic losses: the spruce and fir dominated mountain forests in the region are stocking twice the average biomass per hectare and their growth rates are also approximately double of the Italian average.

After the first shock and quick response to the damages, it became clear that a “multi-actor collaboration” is needed to develop a strategic approach to deal with the aftermath. Consequently, on February 8th 2019, a national congress was held in the Belluno province in the heart of the damaged area to discuss among the Italian scientific and civil community the impact, management and response perspectives after the Vaia storm. The conference was organized by Università di Padova – Dipartimento TESAF, Fondazione G. Angelini, Comune di Belluno, and SISEF – Società Italiana di Selvicoltura ed Ecologia Forestale. Around 600 participants and a large media visibility demonstrated the exceptionally strong interest in the case. Presentations and video are available here.

Trees: The silver bullet for fighting climate change?

By Laura Nikinmaa & Maria Schlossmacher

International climate action and therefore climate negotiations are not only about fossil fuels. Forest conservation or forestations became strategies that are (sometimes more and sometimes less) acknowledged around the globe and strategies that are here to stay. The Paris Agreement promotes forest management as a pathway towards halting climate change through the reduction of CO2 emissions. At the end of the climate negotiations, more than 50 countries have pledged to protect existing forests and add tree cover in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, things might not be that simple.

Science writer and reporter Gabriel Popkin recently released an article in NATURE with the provocative title How much can forests fight climate change?”. In his text, he examines several studies arguing that trees do not only influence the climate in one direction. Planting trees in order to take more carbon out of the atmosphere is a highly practical way to combat climate change – as long as the trees are planted in the right place. In boreal forests for instance, forests do cool the climate, so reforestation there is one crucial and applied way to meet the climate goals. However, the question how big of a role forest have in fighting climate change is at the same time diverse and complex. Although forests suck carbon dioxide from the air, they also affect the climate in various ways. For example, trees absorb and reflect light differently. The light-green broadleaves reflect more sunlight back to the atmosphere than the dark conifers and therefore have more cooling effect during the summer. All the trees emit chemical compounds that affect the climate in different ways: some cool the climate, some make it warmer. Planting trees in tundra might not be efficient when aiming at cooling the climate.

Douglas-fir – firing up foresters since 1827

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is not just any tree. It is arguably one of the most controversial tree species in Europe. This controversy is mostly due to its success on this side of the Atlantic; it is the second most common non-native tree species in Europe and thus creates a lot of conflict potential. The debate has become somewhat polarised around the presumed invasiveness in sensitive natural areas on the one hand and the production of high-quality wood on the other hand. This book tries to provide the debaters with scientific data.

Uncovering the hidden potential – how European forests can be adapted to climate change

The European forest sector phases numerous demands and challenges, and the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change might just be the biggest one of them. The issue is well acknowledged in high-level speeches but not much is known about what happens at the regional or local scale. What are the specific issues, how they are dealt with and by whom? To breach this gap, the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) established a Focus Group in spring 2017. 20 experts from different European countries with practical experience and technical knowledge were selected to reflect on the question “Which new management practices and tools can improve the climate mitigation and adaptation potential of EU forests?” The group consisted of farmers, foresters, land- owners, researchers and advisors. During 2018, the Focus Group produced 10 mini-papers that cover the important aspects of forest practices and climate change. The final report of their work was coordinated by Dr. Marcus Lindner  from the European Forest Institute (EFI) and published on the 8th of January 2019. You can read the report here.

Borkenkäfer – Fluch oder Segen für unseren Wald in NRW?

2018 war ein katastrophales Jahr für den Wald in NRW – das zeigt auch der kürzlich publizierte Waldzustandsbericht.  Landesumweltministerin Ursula Heinen-Esser kommentierte dazu: “Unsere Wälder sind in einem besorgniserregenden Zustand. Denn durch das Zusammenwirken von Sturm im Frühjahr, gefolgt von extremer Sommertrockenheit und anschließend starkem Borkenkäferbefall in den Nadelwäldern sind die Schäden in diesem Jahr erheblich.” Die massive Population des Borkenkäfers wird derzeit kontrovers diskutiert. Besonders betroffen von dem Befall in NRW sind der Bonner Kottenforst, das Vorgebirge und das Naafbachtal. Laut Regionalforstamt Rhein-Sieg ist die Population des Borkenkäfers so hoch wie seit 1947 nicht mehr.

Während Naturschützer in dem starken Borkenkäferbefall eine regelrechte Bereicherung für die Entwicklung des Waldes sehen, argumentiert auf der Gegenseite die Forstwirtschaft, dass der aktuelle Befall dem Wald langfristig schade, weil er dazu führe, dass ganze Bestände aussterben.

Begünstigt durch den trockenen Sommer konnte sich der kleine Käfer erheblich vermehren. Der BUND (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland) beschreibt den Populationsschub als Zeugnis der Selbstheilungskräfte des Waldes. Dieser sei damit nicht nur in der Lage, sich an die klimabedingten Veränderungen anzupassen, indem er sich von einem Nadelforst hin zu einem Naturwald entwickele, sondern die Borkenkäfer bedeuten dem BUND zufolge auch einen Nahrungszuwachs für viele Tiere, wie etwa den Specht.

Diese durch den Borkenkäferbefall ausgelösten Veränderungen, die von Naturschützern so positiv bewertet werden, sieht die Forstwirtschaft mit starken Bedenken. Deswegen wurden in den vergangenen Monaten viele Hektar Wald kahlgeschlagen, um der Ausbreitung des Borkenkäfers entgegenzuwirken. Der BUND kritisiert dieses Vorgehen der Forstwirtschaft, da im Zuge der starken Abholzung auch der Waldboden und somit die Lebensgrundlage der Bäume gefährdet würden.

Mehr Hintergrund zu dem Thema und weiterführende Artikel hier:

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 06.01.2019

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 29.12.2018

Pressemitteilung von Wald und Holz NRW, 31.10.2018

BUND Statement zum Borkenkäfer-Befall im Bayerischen Wald