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?

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 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.

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.

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?

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.

Wildfires going North!

The dry weather pattern over the northern parts of Europe are more stable than we like it to be… Ireland’s Forest Service, part of the European Forest Risk Facility network, has issued a RED fire danger warning, while the UK is burning already.We are observing these conditions more often now, outside the fire prone regions of the Mediterranean. Is this a sign of things to expect under climate change scenarios?

Planted Forests in Colombia @Forest Finance

Bonn-based green investment company planted ten millionth tree

Since 1995, the Bonn-based German expert for green impact investing ForestFinance has been planting forests in the project countries Panama, Peru, Colombia and Vietnam. Now, the reforestation company has just planted its ten millionth tree.

“In 2009, we planted and celebrated our millionth tree in Panama City in the presence of the Panamanian Minister of Environmental Affairs. Today – nine years later – we have increased this number tenfold. We have achieved this together with over 19,000 customers and environmentally conscious investors,” explains Harry Assenmacher, founder of the ForestFinance Group.

Programms of afforestation to create forests increase carbon capture and carbon sequestration, and help to anthropogenically improve biodiversity.

Unusual Record: UK burnt area largest in Europe – so far

Thanks to the careful observation of colleagues at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) we are able to report an unusual “record”: As of 11 June 2018, the largest burnt forest area in this year so far in Europe can be found in the United Kingdom. We are looking at 8049 ha of burnt area  that is more than the combined burnt area of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy together.

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.

Can forests be legal entities?

It seems obvious to most of us that specific species, animals, and plants, are protected by special laws and regulations. However, it is getting less natural when we talk about rivers, forests or trees as legal entities. Or maybe rather opposite?

The Guardian has recently published an article “It’s only natural: the push to give rivers, mountains, and forests legal rights” where author Jane Gleeson-White describes a recent tendency in the Western environmental legal system. “This new approach to environmental law was introduced in the US by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, whose first success came in 2006”, writes Gleeson-White. The discussion about legal rights for the environment and its elements, during last ten years, has exceeded debates within environmental philosophy and anthropology and happened to be a focal point of many social movements.