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


2019 happy news: 8 million Euro for European-Chinese project on UFBS

In the final working week of 2018, we received the confirmation that the EFI-coordinated CLEARING HOUSE project on urban forest-based solutions (UFBS) has been selected for funding by the European Commission. EFI will coordinate 27 project partners from Europe and China in a joint European-Chinese Collaborative Learning project on the role of Urban Forest-based solutions for sustainable urbanisation and resilient cities.

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.

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.

Seeking 2 Junior Researchers for our Resilience Programme

The European Forest Institute is seeking two Junior Researchers to join its Resilience Programme, to conduct a global research and capacity-building project related to the future of employment and green jobs in the forest sector, in close collaboration with the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

EFI’s Resilience Programme focuses on the resilience of forests and livelihoods connected to them. We conduct research, policy support and networking on four strategic themes:

  • The impact of global change and related risks on forest socio-ecological systems
  • Policies and forest management practices to enhance forest biodiversity
  • The rural/urban forest: policies and management practices to enhance the resilience of rural/urban areas – from green infrastructure to wood construction
  • Resilience stewardship

The details of the job responsibilities and qualifications can be found here. Interested candidates are requested to send  a CV (in English) including copies of academic degree certificates/diplomas with a motivation letter by Monday 15th October 2018, using our online application form. For more information about the positions, please contact Andrew Male, Head of HR & Administration:
andrew.male(at)efi.int

Source: Pixabay

Urban Forest-Based Solutions for Resilient Cities

Planting trees is a longstanding traditional urban planning approach for improving liveability in cities. Dating back from the earliest urban societies such as the Roman Empire, urban planners have applied trees for bringing shade, mitigating temperature, rainfall and wind, and providing food and fodder for animals. Providing urban trees, parks and urban forests is probably one of the earliest applications of what is now termed “nature-based solutions”. Nature-based solutions are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.

UBFSv3.png
The Urban Forest-Based Solutions process cycle.

Der “Kampf um Wald und Kohle” – wie ein Wald Kristallisationspunkt einer politischen Auseinandersetzung wurde

Der Hambacher Forst ist derzeit wohl der meist diskutierte Wald in den deutschen Medien. Dieser Wald liegt nur rund 50 Kilometer westlich von Köln direkt an Europas größtem Braunkohletagebau. Von dem ehemals 5.500 Hektar großen Wald sind heute noch rund 500 Hektar übrig. Ab Oktober diesen Jahres wird vom Energiekonzern RWE die nächste Rodungssaison geplant, nach der noch knapp 200 Hektar des Waldes verbleiben werden. Doch seit Jahren regt sich Widerstand und macht den Wald zum Schauplatz eines Kampfes „um Kohle, Wald und Klima“, wie die Deutsche Welle kürzlich titelte. Was 2012 mit einer Besetzung des Waldes durch Umweltaktivist*innen begann, umfasst heute eine breite Protestbewegung vielfältiger Akteur*innen mit Bürger*innen aus umliegenden Dörfern oder auch von weiter weg, Umweltverbänden, Kirchengemeinden und vielen weiteren, die sich für den Erhalt des Waldes aussprechen.

Metsään meni – into the forest: Finnish delegation visits Bonn

How does the German forest look like for visitors from the north? There are taller trees and the exotic European beech, but the Norway spruce reminds us of home. We exchanged that and some other thoughts with a delegation from the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry[1] who visited the Bonn Office on the 29th of August. They were hosted by colleagues from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)[2] who also participated in a field visit to an urban forest in Bonn.

After a brief introduction about the EFI Resilience Programme, we had the opportunity to visit the Jägerhäuschen Marteloscope site, where Uwe Schölmerich, the head of the Regional Forest Enterprise Rhein-Sieg-Erft, kindly guided us.

Despite the obvious differences between German and Finnish forest ecology and management, many of the challenges we face are similar. Bark beetles have been causing damages in both countries for a long time, and the exceptionally hot and dry summer brought forest fires to the agenda in an entirely new way. Halting the loss of biodiversity is also an important part of current forest management and planning even if the systems are different.

Forest managers and other interested groups learn about integrated forest management in both countries. The use of demonstration sites such as e.g. Marteloscopes has proven a valuable tool for educating and creating a dialogue among various interest groups relating to different aspects of forest management. The Finnish delegation at the Jägerhäuschen Marteloscope clearly recognized it. They suggested adding a carbon sequestration component to the I+ software training tool which allows to visualize, how forest management decisions affect the carbon balance of the site and how wood products from harvested wood contribute to store carbon over many years. We thanked the Finnish delegation for this valuable input and expressed our hope that Marteloscopes may also find application in training and education in Finland in the near future.

[1] Juha Niemelä – The Head of the Natural Resources Unit; Heikki Granholm – Forest Counsellor; Teemu Seppä – Senior Adviser

[2] Axel Heider – Manager ‘Forestry Department’; Matthias Schwoerer- Head of ‘International Forest Policy Unit’; Aljoscha Requardt – International Forest Policy Unit