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.
Summer School in Ireland’s oldest city in June 2019
EFI’s Resilience Programme highly recommends the summer school “Protecting the Forest resource: Risk assessment and Management using Innovative Tools”, jointly organized by EFIPLANT and the Waterford Institute of Technology, taking place from 24-27 June 2019 in Waterford, Ireland.
Forests are facing mammoth challenges, which means that forestry professionals (and those to become) require the best training possible. Overall aim of the summer school programme is to learn how these measurements can be used to make assessments of the levels of forest risks and how they can be combined with other existing forest management tools.
The focus lies on the training with tools to protect forest resources from different hazards. The summer school follows a highly practical approach, where the participants will be introduced and trained in the use of latest technology and techniques for assisting modern forestry professionals in decision making. Starting with an introduction to tools based on mobile phones, drones and computer-based decision support systems, the agenda continues with laboratory sessions to learn how these measurements can be used. The programme offers a mixture of field trips, lectures and laboratory work. The participants will be guided by 20 internationally recognized experts in the field of forest risk management.
An overview of the detailed program you find here , the sessions on Tuesday, June 25 are open for day attendees.
I was in Barcelona on Monday 11 February to participate in the EFIMED event Facing Forest Fires with EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides. The Commissioner explained his rescEU plan aiming at improving the European system to tackle natural disasters in more detail. Immediately, my earlier thoughts on this plan came back to mind: I still think rescEU might have the wrong focus, and we should allocate resources towards wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression.
Stylianides’ speech was followed by four contributions from science, practice and also the policy level. They all had a clear message, that coincides with our European Forest Risk Facility‘s vision (resilient landscapes – adapted communities – adequate response): Instead of more fire fighting aircraft (which is part of rescEU) emphasize must be given to landscape- and forest management, i.e. managing the fuel load, fuel availability, and fuel characteristics to enable safe and effective fire management. Often, this fuel management is addressed through the use of prescribed fire, especially in the Mediterranean.
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.
European Forest Institute’s SURE project and its initiative to establish the European Forest Risk Facility is again supporting a network activity. We are exchanging with fire and forest experts from 7 countries, this time in Mafra, Portugal, 5 to 10 of May 2019
The III international Prescribed Fire Meeting of Mafra comes as a result of the use of prescribed fire as a land management tool during the last decade, and after the first and second training conducted in 2017 and 2018, with overwhelming positive evaluation by all the participating technicians.
The Mafra 2019 Operational Training, supported by the SURE project and the European Forest Risk Facility initiative, will bring together expert technicians from all around the world ( seven countries) and will create opportunities for knowledge exchange. One of the objectives of this exercise is to make it as practical and operational as possible, simulating a training camp so that participants can strengthen partnerships, spirit of friendship and increase the trustful cohesion of the fire community.
The provisional program may be changed due to weather conditions. Take a look at the program here and here for the list of invited speakers.
Further reading: This is a very interesting, and motivating, blog post from the “Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network”. With some minor adaptions (land use change for instance), this article refers not only to the US but to Europe just as well! Read it, and please consider that, in Europe, prescribed fire is only one tool in the land- and fuel management toolbox.
by Patrick Fonti & Ute Sass-Klaassen
As humans and animals, trees also perceive their environment. However, differently than humans and animals, trees cannot escape unfavorable situation and thus have to have good mechanisms to face them to survive over decades and centennials. Our COST Action STReESS (Studying Tree Responses to extreme Events: a SynthesiS) focused the attention on understanding how trees respond to a changing environment and on how to collect, use and interpret this information to early and directly assess the impact of extreme climate events on forests. This approach, called the “tree-centered approach”, basically let the trees tell us how strong they perceived a given climatic extreme and how this is affecting them over the following years. With today’s current techniques, this can be monitored in near real time, opening also the possibility to create early-warning systems to assess the health status of our forests.
We are happy to share that our network of Marteloscopes is continuously expanding both in terms of number of sites and countries. New countries joining the Integrate Marteloscopes network are Luxembourg, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Spain. They are currently either in the process of setting up sites or have indicated to establish them in the coming months. Countries already having established Marteloscopes are adding additional ones as e.g. the Czech Republic, France, Germany (also increasing the coverage across Federal States), Poland and Switzerland. All in all we can look forward to increasing the total number of Marteloscopes by at least 25 new sites (adding to a total of then around 65) in the course of 2019.
Not only is the their number growing but also their application. Many events were implemented by different ‘Marteloscope managers’ during the second half of 2018. They varied from Marteloscope visits during field excursions to tailored training schools. In particular the value for silviculture training has gained momentum and goes as far as investigating options of embedding Marteloscopes in training curricula. The range of topics also does not stop at nature conservation aspects in managed forests but addresses also other aspects (such as silvicultural treatments and climate change impacts). We also continue to collect feedback from our network on what further applications are seen for Marteloscopes and the corresponding I+ software. Examples are exporting exercise results to growth simulators and adding new training modules to the software including topics such as climate change and carbon sequestration.
A recent development is the interest of pedagogic universities in Marteloscopes. They see good potential in using them within school education programmes. Concluding, we would like to draw attention to our ‘I+’ software store webpage. It serves as access point to downloading the ‘I+’ software components, provides software tutorials, contact details to established Marteloscope sites and a range of supporting documents.
Who does’t know the adventures of Asterix and Obelix? These two friends and their fellow villagers are constantly trying to defend their way of life against the never-ending attempts from outsiders to destroy it. Stories like this have occurred throughout history all across the planet, but luckily most of them are peaceful. This is a story about resilience; not only of forests, but mainly of people.
No, not the border fence between Ireland and Northern Ireland, no.
In this blog, we are discussing tree species composition, forest adaptation and conversion towards more resilient forests! Deer management in silviculture is one of the crucial factors to consider, just like enough light for the seedlings and site conditions. And here are the fencing news from Ireland, I quote from the Irish newspaper “Independant”.
“New deer fencing grant among measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests: Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle today announced the opening of three new support measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests. A new scheme to support ‘Continuous Cover Forestry’, (CCF), which allows for the production of commercial timber while retaining forest cover at all times. Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) is an alternative forest management approach where the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels without clearfelling. The distinctive element of CCF is the avoidance of clearfelling areas greater than 0.25 ha or more than two tree heights wide without the retention of some mature trees. These systems are generally associated with natural regeneration but natural regeneration can be supplemented by planting if required.
Slovakia, as a member of the Network INTEGRATE, established two new Martelescope sites at the end of the year 2018.
by Eva Hušťáková
The sites are located very close to Bratislava city, at a specific locality with the name „Devínska kobyla” in the Little Carpathian Mountains. The area is managed by the forest state enterprise LESY Slovenskej republiky, branch Smolenice. Forest managers selected two types of stands: predominantly beech and oak. The two sites are only a few kilometres away from each other, at an altitude of 300 m and 340 m above sea level. Both forests are more than 100 years old. Experts from our National Forest Centre in Zvolen realized measuring of all trees on a rectangular square of 100x100m. Consequently, they identified microhabitats on all trees according to the reference field list, which is part of the tree microhabitats catalogue developed by the European Forest Institute (Kraus et al. 2016). The total number of trees was 203 in the beech plot and 409 in the oak plot.