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 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.

Opportunity to join our team in Bonn

EFI Bonn office window view
The windows of EFI Bonn offices overlook the river Rhein. Credit: H.Kruse/EFI

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.

That could be you.

Mit deutschsprachigen Forstchefs im Bonner Kottenforst

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 protection in forest management: mandatory and voluntary tools in Europe

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.

Fire News from European Media

Here we would like to provide you with recent updates:

Ireland
After responding to 50 wildfires over the past two weeks, Collite urged the public not to engage in “fire tourism” as forest and gorse fires continue to rage across the country amid hot, dry conditions. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/coillte-warns-public-against-fire-tourism-1.3556266

France
The president of a protection association overseeing a natural area near Villers-lès-Nancy lamented the destruction done to birds’ nesting grounds by an 8-hectare wildfire which roared through the area several days ago. https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/grand-est/meurthe-et-moselle/nancy/espace-naturel-sensible-incendie-villers-nancy-1507109.html

Wildfeuer auf kontaminierten Flächen

Hier ein Update zu einem erneuten Brand auf ehemaligem Militärgelände (Quelle: Spiegel online) und meine Kommentare dazu.

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?

It’s not too late to ensure your spot in Sardinia!

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.

Germany dried up and on fire

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.

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

Bark beetle outbreaks and the future of European forests

Discussing solutions and searching for more resilience forests

How are different European countries dealing with bark beetle outbreaks and which role do questions like sanitary cutting, monitoring systems, forest ownership, windstorms and expectations towards nature conservation play? What are the challenges regarding climate change? How do the social perception of active and inactive forest management impact forester’s activities in local forests? Which tools should be used to cope with natural disturbances and how we can educate foresters, policy makers, and other relevant stakeholders? Following the invitation of the Polish Ministry of Environment and the Polish State Forests, we discussed these and more issues in the Białowieża Forest during a working seminar of the European Network INTEGRATE from 25-27 June 2018.