The North remembers! Or does it? Winter was coming when I traveled to Scandinavia this January to conduct interviews on integrated forest management. For those less familiar with forestry jargon, this term describes a forest management characterized at attaining multiple outputs from the same forest, sometimes even the same stand. The term is very broad and needs to be specified further before it can be applied. In the case of the INFORMAR project, on which I will write here, we assess the application of nature conservation measures into forestry.
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.
“With drought and heat posing individual threats [to forests], there is also the looming threat of frequent ‘double whammies’ of drought and heat: concurrent drought and heatwaves, across India and the globe”, says a recent Nature study introduced by science writer Sandhya Sekar on the conservation and environmental science news platform Mongobay.
According to Sekar, “the response of vegetation to a combination of drought and stress is complex, ranging from short-lived local mortality events to regional-scale forest die-offs. A variety of forest types have shown mortality in the face of concurrent heat and drought: dry savannas which are adapted to seasonal rainfall, coniferous forests with a Mediterranean climate to tropical rainforests.”
How does the Danish Nature Agency address the trend of rewilding? What are the plans to transition managed forests into forest biodiversity reserves in Denmark – and what are the expected benefits and challenges? We discussed these and other questions with Mogens Krog, Deputy forest officer at the Danish Nature Agency.
Mogens, rewilding is a trend in Denmark now – who are the ones who argue for large connected wild nature areas and no further management? And what is the approach of the Danish Nature Agency?
In Denmark there is a growing interest among nature conservationists and nature conservation NGO’s for large connected wild nature with large herbivores (plant eater). A large area in a Danish context is considered to be 500 ha. Some argue for re-introduction of species which have been part of nature in Denmark in pre-historic time, e.g. wild horses, European bison, moose, and even elephants. Others find domestic animals such as cattle and horses, sufficient to create natural disturbances in nature areas for the benefit of biodiversity.
Denmark is a much regulated landscape with agriculture covering more than 60 % of the land area. Therefore, it may be relative expensive to include private land in rewilding projects Also, in order to avoid major conflicts with agricultural interests, rewilding is likely to be limited to large fences. State owned land is the focus of rewilding interests. In Denmark, state owned land is primarily managed by the Danish Nature Agency under the Ministry of the Environment and Food and covers app. 5% of the total land area in Denmark (210.000 ha).