forest fire in Sweden

“HELP! Our forests are burning!” – “But what kind of help do you need?”

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 safety. Here’s where evacuations have taken 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 the fact that the crisis management cycle has more phases than just the response. Is that single focused reporting maybe a reason for the political ignorance of urgent needs for prevention and mitigation?

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.

Forest Policy means Resilience – Wageningen Meeting

What do we mean when we talk about forest policy and governance? We also mean resilience. The Second International Forest Policy Meeting has presented it quite clearly.

More than hundred participants from 20 countries attended the Second International Forest Policy Meeting which took place in Wageningen between 11th and 13th of April. During the event, participants discussed four main themes: 1. Forest governance, 2. International policy&politics, 3. Community&society, and 4. Conflict&control. They could undeniably experience that forest policy is way more than the actions of powerful actors operated within an institutional structure and enhanced by bureaucracy.

Out of office: marteloscope training in Bonn

The network of marteloscopes, which was started during the Integrate+ project, is continuously expanding in terms of sites and users. On April 12th, Andreas Schuck from European Forest Institute led a marteloscope exercise in the Jägerhäuschen marteloscope in Kottenforst near Bonn, assisted by me. The training session was organised in cooperation with the local forest district Rhein-Sieg-Erft. Most of the twelve participants work for the BfN, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, but there were also two representatives of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Reducing wildfires in the countryside: Workshop in Ireland

Workshop meeting to collect input for the Northern Irish Vegetation Fire Strategy

45 participants from across Ireland, all of them highly interested in vegetation fire, held a workshop meeting on 20-21 March 2018 in Belfast. The event was also attended by a number of international fire experts and specialists from the UK, Spain, Germany and the US: Chuck Bushey, former president of IAWF; Michael Bruce, Vice Chair of Scottish Wildfire Forum; Rob Gazzard, UK Forestry Commission Fire Adviser; Craig Hope, Lead Wildfire Officer South Wales Fire Service; Simon Thorp, UK Heather Trust; Jordi Vendrell, fire weather and behavior analyst of the Pau Costa Foundation; Alexander Held, European Forest Risk Facility (hosted by European Forest Institute’s Bonn office).

In the forest classroom

Foresters exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope in cooperation with ConFoBi researchers

by Bettina Joa

ConFoBi (Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-Use Landscapes of Central Europe) is a research project of the University of Freiburg and the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) that focuses on the effectiveness of structural retention measures for biodiversity conservation in multi-functional forests. Researchers work in a common pool of 135 study plots located in the Black Forest. In the course of ConFoBi’s yearly information event for foresters managing those forest areas that contain one of the 135 plots, a Marteloscope training exercise was conducted with 10 foresters from Forst-BW.

Frank Krumm (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL) and Andreas Schuck (European Forest Institute) introduced the Marteloscope concept as a training tool for thinning exercises revealing common challenges and trade-offs in integrative forest management. Marteloscopes are one hectare forest sites where all trees have been numbered, mapped and measured. With the help of the “I+”software that runs on mobile devices, trees can be virtually harvested and retained. Thereby the results of the individual tree selection, namely the ecological and economic consequences, can be immediately displayed, initiating discussions as well as learning processes.

First Exchange of Experts of SURE project in Czech Republic – a cooperative learning experience

In Europe, there are almost as many ways to manage forests as there are forest owners. However, many of the challenges they face are the same: how to manage wildlife, how to prevent storm damage and how to ensure successful regeneration in the changing climate, to name just a few. To find the best management practice can be a challenge. One of the most efficient ways to overcome this struggle is to talk to and learn from someone, who has faced a similar problem. European Forest Institute (EFI) and Czech Republic brought together practitioners from different parts of Europe to learn from each other’s experiences in the framework of the SURE (SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forest) project, coordinated by the EFI Bonn office.

Pro Silva Bohemica and the FRISK (European Forest Risk Facility) secretariat at EFI Bonn office organized an Exchange of Experts to Czech Republic in October 2017, where participants from forest services, wildlife management associations and communal forest owners’ association from different parts of Germany, Austria, Ireland and Czech Republic could meet and learn from one another.

The programme included a vast amount of topics. Participants discussed large scale disturbances and forest die-back, practising close-to-nature forestry and transitioning from monoculture to continuous cover forestry as well as the impact of wildlife on forest management. Risk reduction, resilience and mitigating climate change were also reviewed.

Of different challenges that forest managers face, the deer impact on tree regeneration was one of the most prominent one in Czech. Many tree species, especially Silver fir (Abies alba), need long time protection from deer. As protection of seedlings and older trees is costly, there is an interest to establish a better game management plan. One option is to develop an integrated wildlife management plan that could be implemented with the support of EFI.

The Exchange of Experts is part of the SURE project activities.  See the full report here.

EFI Documentary explains wise use of our forests

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.