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.
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.
By Theresa Frei & Johanna Strieck
“We must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature – or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead”, says Sir Robert Watson – chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This is but one somber, yet realistic conclusion drawn from the most recent reports on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
By the end of March, IPBES approved four landmark science reports on biodiversity and ecosystem services for different regions of the world and published a report on land degradation and restoration worldwide. These reports, comparable to the IPCC reports on climate change, result from three years of work, involving more than 550 leading scientists from over 100 countries to assess the state of worldwide biodiversity and ecosystem services. The main findings draw a gloomy future, however not without mentioning the one or the other ray of hope.
“How are different European countries dealing with Integrated Forest Management and which role do questions like tree composition, forest ownership, and expectations with regards to timber production play? What are the challenges regarding effective funding schemes for Integrated Forest Management, and why do we need payments for ecosystem services? How can we better communicate the advantages of Integrated Forest Management? Which tools can be used to further educate foresters, policy makers, and other relevant stakeholders? Following the invitation of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, we discussed these and more issues in the framework of the second meeting of the European Network INTEGRATE from 19-21 March 2018.
Together with more than 40 representatives of ministries, state forests and private forest owners, researchers and practitioners from 10 European countries, we spent three inspiring days in the Czech Republic. Most of the participants came from Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Croatia, Austria and – of course – the Czech Republic, and Italy was represented by a new network member from the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. Joining INTEGRATE for the first time, policy makers from Finland, Latvia and Belgium shared their countries’ approaches to forest management and the integration of nature protection in forest policy.
by Johanna Strieck and Laura Nikinmaa
To round up an already eventful week at the EFI Bonn, EFI-Senior Expert Alexander Held took us (Laura Nikinmaa, Junior Researcher and Johanna Strieck, Communications Trainee) last Friday, February 24th to controlled heathland burning to the Drover Heide, nearby Bonn, to learn more on fire management and to get an idea of its practical application in the field. It was a great day for making your first experiences with controlled burning, and the compact small-scale operation on 10-15 ha allowed plenty of time for explanations. Sun exposure and wind speed was quite high and the level of humidity was moderate to high.
Across the forest sector in Europe there is broad consensus that resilient forests should regenerate naturally with multiple and different (and site specific) tree species. The more diversity in the regeneration, the better. With a forest use that follows natural processes. By these means, ecological and economic risks are reduced.
Across the forest sector in Europe there is also broad consensus that unbalanced deer densities have a negative effect on tree species composition through selective browsing, bark stripping and fraying.
However, there exists a conflict of interest in different European countries since many years: Should high deer densities for easier hunting be preferred – or should lower deer densities for forest development be favoured? A new dimension is added to this discussion when focusing on biodiversity. Biodiversity of forest systems is seen as an insurance and pre-requisite for resilience with regards to expected climate change. Considering that new dimension, the discussion exceeds the level of forest owner interests vs. hunting interests, it becomes a complex topic for society.
Marteloscope sites are like outdoor forest classrooms where the trees are numbered, mapped and measured. They can be used to train foresters and other interest groups how different silvicultural measures may affect forest biodiversity and to what extent. Software running on mobile devices allows virtual tree selection exercises and then displays the results. Participants can immediately see the ecological and economic consequences of their choices. Variations in exercise results initiate discussion and stimulate the exchange of experiences and learning.
Andreas Schuck from the EFI Bonn team is conducting training exercises with different stakeholders from the field of forestry, nature conservation, and academia. The latest training took place at the Falkenberg Marteloscope on 16th of October. It is located in the northern Vosges region of France. Twelve participants representing both forestry and nature conservation were introduced to Marteloscopes and their potential applications followed by a virtual tree selection exercise. The exercise asked for selecting habitat trees while removing high quality trees for economic return. Andreas Schuck and Frank Krumm from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) moderated the training jointly with Loïc Duchamp from the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord, France (PNRVN). The same virtual tree selection exercise was implemented by groups of two followed by a brief presentation of results and joint discussion. Habitat and economic valuable trees were then looked at more closely in order to challenge the groups on their decisions.
Utilising our forests with care and understanding will ensure that they continue to deliver everything we value now and for generations to come. Wood is a much needed resource and will continue to be in future. The film wise use of our forests: the integrative approach aims at presenting Europe’s forest in this context.