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 own safety. Here’s where evacuations take 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 that the crisis management cycle has more phases than just the response. Is that single-focused reporting maybe a reason for political ignorance of urgent needs for prevention and mitigation?
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 planned and prepared by ANW Deutschland and Pro Silva Europa. It was operationally 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.
Since last year, when European Forest Institute’s office was set up in Bonn, the team has been growing fast. From just two scientists, it has now reached a number of 21 people, all passionate about forests.
One of the latest additions to the team were Ewa and Michele from the EUFORGEN Secretariat, who moved to Bonn from Rome in June. You can read more about them here and why they moved here.
Our Office Manager Heike Kruse has decided to only work part-time as of October, so we are looking for an addition to our team.
Am Freitag, den 6. Juli 2018, haben Wald und Holz NRW und wir, das Bonner Büro von European Forest Institute (EFI), für die ForstchefInnen von Deutschland, Österreich, der Schweiz, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg und Südtirol eine Exkursion in den Bonner Kottenforst organisiert, um uns über das Spannungsfeld Naturschutz – nachhaltige Waldwirtschaft – Nutzung des Waldes für Erholungszwecke auszutauschen. Die Exkursion fand im Rahmen eines Treffens auf Einladung des Bundesministeriums für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL) in Bonn statt, bei dem waldpolitische Fragen diskutiert wurden.
Um die Integration der verschiedenen Waldfunktionen Nutz/Schutz/Erholung aus forstpraktischem Blickwinkel betrachten zu können, haben wir mit den Forstchefs die Marteloskopfläche „Jägerhäuschen“ besucht und gemeinsam mit Uwe Schölmerich, Leiter des Regionalforstamtes Rhein-Sieg-Erft, vorgestellt. Marteloskope sind Waldflächen, in denen alle Bäume genau vermessen wurden. Baumart, Durchmesser, Holzwert und ökologischer Besonderheiten wie Spechthöhlen oder Rindentaschen sind erfasst und in einer digitalen Karte dargestellt. Anhand dieser Beispiele können ForstmanagerInnen und Studierende, aber auch PolitikvertreterInnen und die interessierte Öffentlichkeit mithilfe einer Tabletsoftware im Wald selbst simulieren, wie man Naturschutzaspekte und wirtschaftliche Erwartungen miteinander in Einklang bringen kann.
Nature is the diversity of living organisms on Earth. It constitutes an essential element for human well-being and for ecosystems services (such as food production, water cycles, soil fertility).
In Europe several studies have demonstrated a steady loss of animal and plant species related to forest, caused for example by intensive land use, invasive alien species introduction, pollution and global warming (EEA short report on Biodiversity, 2008). Maintenance of biodiversity in forests will support its resilience to natural and human pressures. It contributes for example to the mitigation of raising temperatures and to food security.
I have recently been working on several mandatory and voluntary tools supporting nature conservation in forests, and I would like to introduce some of the most important here.
In Deutschland, vor allem im Osten, gibt es tausende Hektar aktive oder ehemalige Truppenübungsplätze. Naturschutzfachlich sind diese Flächen auf Grund der ehemaligen militärischen Störung äußerst wertvoll und zumeist auch NATURA 2000- Flächen. Leider sind die militärischen Hinterlassenschaften (UXO Unexploded Ordnace) nicht so wertvoll, sondern gefährden Umwelt, Boden, Grundwasser und im Falle von Wildfeuern auch die Einsatzkräfte.
Zwei Fragen stellen sich: Wie können wir den Offenland-Charackter dieser Natura 2000 Flächen erhalten und gleichzeitig die Sicherheit der Einsatzkräfte im Brandfall erhöhen?
There is still time to submit an abstract to present at this year’s two satellite events during the European Forest Institute annual conference taking place in September on the second biggest island of Italy – Sardinia.
Both events touch upon the aspect of biodiversity at the level of genes. In fact, a rich genetic diversity of forest trees is like a resilience insurance: in the face of a climate change and pests and diseases, some trees will have genes that are resistant to these disturbances, thusenabling the forest to recover after some time.
However, the two scientific seminars go beyond resilience and genetic diversity.
A very sunny June 2018 was also a very dry June! And I mean dry:
The sunshine duration in June with about 215 hours of sunshine reached 108 percent of the target of 198 hours. Persistent drought in the northeast, severe thunderstorms in the southwest:
At around 50 l / m², June reached only 57 percent of its target nationwide (85 l / m²). The month was very poor in Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, which had already been part of the drought affected areas in May. In Wittenberg for instance, from April 27 to June 20, only 0.9 l / m² were recorded. The drought had a catastrophic effect, because in addition to numerous wildfires, agriculture and forestry is already suffering enormous drought related damage.
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.