Should we foster commodity production or biodiversity in our forests? Or try to integrate them both? When working on and with forests, certain tensions and occasional conflicts between representatives of forest management and nature conservation are a notorious part of our lives. In some places, the animosities are more obvious than in others, though integrative approaches are obviously gaining attraction. I share here my recent observations from Slovakia, my home country with diverse forests passing from the High Tatras with an iconic national park to the Danube Lowland with dry oak forests. Recent political decisions concerning the fate of our national parks upheaved society once again and made me realize how data and knowledge can be misused to back up any policy in place, rather than provide impartial grounds for knowledge-based decisions.
Tag: bark beetle
Jumping into the deep end – or better: jumping right into deep forest: fieldworks are one of the best parts of my PhD project with Wageningen University and the Joint Research Centre. This time, together with more than 30 junior and senior researchers from all over Europe and more than 40 additional virtual participants we had the first project meeting of the RESONATE project from 4th – 6th October in Kostelec nad Černými lesy (Czech Republic). RESONATE, short for “Resilient forest value chains – enhancing resilience through natural and socio-economic responses” is a project lead by European Forest Institute, with 20 European partners. The project meeting was hosted by the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences of Czech University of Life Sciences. It took place in the castle of Kostelec and Černými lesy, operated by the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, and surrounded by the Bohemian Forest. One of the most exciting parts of the event was the excursion, where we could see the effects of recent large scale bark beetle outbreaks.
By Matteo Cerioni, Gal Fidej, Patrick Vallet, Marcus Lindner & Gesche Schifferdecker
After seeing thousands of hectares of spruce forest die after disturbances all over Europe in the past years, it seems like spruce is our problem child – at least in Central and Eastern Europe. Spruce died in monocultures, but was also more affected than other species by e.g. storm and bark beetle damages in mixed forest stands. This had and still has both significant ecological as well as financial impacts because spruce is an economically important species.
When looking at the future – and the increased forest disturbances we can expect due to climate change – it is crucial to find out how forests recover after being damaged. Looking at different forest areas in Slovenia hit by severe disturbances, a group of researchers from the Department for Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources at University of Ljubljana focused on the following questions: How do mixed forests with varying share of spruce recover after ice storms, bark beetle damage, and windthrow? Which regeneration characteristics are useful to assess the forest recovery? And how does forest management influence both the impact of disturbances as well as the regeneration process?
By Tomáš Hlásny, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences
Outbreaks of bark beetles have devastated vast swaths of forests across Europe, flooding media headlines and concerning forest owners, managers, policy-makers, and the public. The outbreaks affected many countries such as Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Germany, Sweden, or France and challenged not only forest management but entire societies. The unprecedented areas of dead and often salvaged trees dramatically changed historically forested environments and compromised landscape cultural values. Heavy logging and transportation of dead trees and consequent impacts on the timber market further aggravated the effects on people and the environment.
“Scientists alarmed by bark beetle boom” (ScienceDaily, 2019), “French forests scarred as heatwaves bring bark beetle infestation” (Euronews, 2019a), “Czech forest owners face $1.7 billion loss this year from bark beetle crisis” (Euronews, 2019b) and finally “Merkel promises €500m to revitalise German forests” (Guardian, 2019) – these were only some of the many forest-related headlines in European news in the past months.
It is obvious: How weather affects our forests, would not have made it to the news ten years ago – but following the unprecedented hot temperatures, long dry spells as well as severe storm events in Central Europe, everybody was talking about the state of our forests. These extreme weather events are a not only a huge burden for human health but also for entire natural ecosystems. In Germany, extreme temperatures contributed to the extremely dire state of about 180,000 ha of forested area and taxpayer support of 800 million Euros for reforestation measures (FAZ, 2019). In the past, evolution gave flora and fauna the opportunity to adapt to changing environmental conditions and climates but the pace and scale of climatic changes that we experience today, give our natural world a mountain to climb, regardless of the money thrown at the problem.
On 11-12 July 2019, nine journalists from six media teams visited the Białowieża Forest to attend the ‘Sound Co-Lab Reporting’ – a workshop introducing audio storytelling techniques to report on forest-related issues. The workshop was part of the Lookout Station which aims to bridge the gap between science and media and bring innovation to newsrooms. The event was organized in collaboration with EUFORGEN to bring forest genetics onto the map of interconnected issues needed to decipher today’s complex problems.
Białowieża Forest, a UNESCO-protected site on the border between Poland and Belarus, is known worldwide for its high conservation value and for a history of controversy over conservation and forest management.
On 15 May, Malgorzata Blicharska (Uppsala University) presented the findings of the Białowieża Science Initiative in the Permanent Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union in Brussels. EFI researchers, together with other representatives from academia, policy, forestry, nature conservation agencies and media debated on how to use the lesson learnt from the Białowieża Forest for other areas in Europe facing similar challenges.
For a young professional in the field of forestry, reading the news nowadays is a schizophrenic experience. On one hand, I’m scared to death with the heat waves and drought occurring at odd times of the year, continuously increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, alien species invasions in new areas and massive insect outbreaks in various parts of Europe. On the other hand, it is very exciting and hopeful: climate change awareness is increasing, and actions are being taken, wood product innovations are replacing many fossil-fuel based ones, and biodiversity conservation measures are adopted by many forest managers. Nevertheless, we are facing a serious situation that cannot be fixed with few tricks. With the disturbance frequency and intensity increasing all the time, we need to revise how we manage the risks they are causing to our forests.
Von Lisa Prior & Maria Schlossmacher
Um über die Waldarbeiten im Bonner Stadtwald aufzuklären, die vielerorts erst einmal auf Unverständnis stoßen, lud das Amt für Stadtgrün der Stadt Bonn für den Nachmittag des 19. Februar 2019 zu einem Waldspaziergang ein. Stadtförster Sebastian Korintenberg gab den interessierten Bonner BürgerInnen Einblicke in die derzeit durchgeführten Holzerntearbeiten und sprach über die Folgen des Borkenkäferbefalls.
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…