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Tag: forest disturbances

Expecting the unexpected: how to manage forest landscapes in a highly uncertain future?

In past blog posts we have been discussing how forest landscapes can be seen as interconnected and functional complex networks – and shown how network analysis can be combined with modelling and forest management. But is the so-called functional network approach really an efficient way to optimize forest landscape management and to promote ecological resilience in the face of unexpected global change stresses?

When we go hiking in the mountains, we know that before reaching an appealing and gratifying view we often need to walk up a few hundred meters inside a forest. Sounds natural, it has always been this way. We have cities, crop fields, grasslands, forests, rocky mountain peaks, etc. Forests are intrinsically part of our cultural landscape, and it is normal to think they will always be. Although such landscapes look simple, when we disentangle each single element, we realise that it is a very complex socio-ecological network, with both human and biophysical processes linked across different spatial and temporal scales.

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Is European forest management out of alignment with natural patterns in disturbances?

by Joshua Brow, University of Vermont

European forests are in trouble. “Not because they’re being lost,” says University of Vermont scientist William Keeton. “Europe, actually, is greener and more heavily forested now than it has been in centuries.” But many of the continent’s forests are suffering major insect outbreaks, forest disease problems, increasing frequencies of wind-storms, and more-intense fires.
To help give forest managers and policymakers new options, Keeton and a large team of European scientists completed an extensive, multi-year study of forests in thirteen countries across the continent.

Their results show that most current forest management in Europe doesn’t imitate the patterns of nature—specifically, the complex patterns created by natural disturbances that leave behind a mosaic of tree types, ages, and sizes; standing and downed dead wood; and highly variable, resilient landscapes.

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“Herkulesaufgabe in Zeiten maximaler Unsicherheit”

Auch wenn unsere Nachrichten derzeit von anderen Themen dominiert werden:  Am Internationalen Tag des Waldes tauchte aus endlosen Pandemie-Wellen und dem Krieg in der Ukraine kurz auch mal wieder das Thema Wald und Klimaerwärmung auf. Die aktuell krassen Temperaturrekorde in Arktis und Antarktis betreffen den Wald zwar nicht direkt, aber selbst Klimawissenschaftler*innen sind beunruhigt über die unerwartet starke Anhäufung von Extremereignissen. Jegliches Mittelmaß scheint dem Wetter abhandengekommen zu sein. Nachdem im Winter noch die Alarmglocken auf der Iberischen Halbinsel läuteten, weil wochenlang alle Niederschläge mit den Tiefdruckgebieten nach Mitteleuropa abgedrängt wurden, hat sich das Blatt jetzt radikal gedreht. Statt Trockenstress sind dort nun Unwetterwarnungen wegen Starkniederschlägen angezeigt. Ich freue mich immer über März-Sonne, aber Wälder und Äcker sehnen sich hierzulande schon wieder nach Feuchtigkeit – es hat ja kaum nennenswert geregnet den ganzen Monat. Der Klimawandel mag von anderen Themen überdeckt werden, ist aber weiter aktuell und alarmierend. Das weiß auch der seit 100 Tagen amtierende Bundesminister Cem Özdemir, der in seinem Grußwort zum digitalen Waldsymposium am Tag des Waldes unterstrichen hat, wie wichtig die Förderung der Anpassungsfähigkeit unserer Wälder in diesen Zeiten ist.  

Die Anpassung von Wäldern und Waldwirtschaft an den Klimawandel wird uns als Thema noch lange beschäftigen. Der Wissenschaftliche Beirat für Waldpolitik (WBW), der die Bundesregierung bei der Gestaltung der Rahmenbedingungen für eine nachhaltige Bewirtschaftung der Wälder unterstützt, hat zu diesem Thema im Oktober ein Gutachten veröffentlicht. Darin werden – basierend auf aktuellen Forschungserkenntnissen – Handlungsempfehlungen in unterschiedlichen Themenfeldern formuliert.  

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An Orwellian debate on the national parks in Slovakia: What can a scientist do in a post-truth era?

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.

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Disturbances, forests, and people: operating the world of forest resilience

In recent weeks, the RESONATE project’s Twitter has explored different definitions for forest resilience. Some of them sounded rather similar, some very different and all of them might have left the reader with more questions: “But what does this mean in practice?”. Armed with coffee and cookies, I’ll try to enlighten the mysterious and sometimes headache-inducing world of resilience.

To make some sense of the different definitions, it is good to remember that they are rarely completely new and innovative but are based on some previous definitions from which they have been further developed. That is why some of them sound very similar but with some notable differences.

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Forest recovery after large and severe disturbances in Slovenia

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?

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Hotspot or jackpot? RESONATE project creates resilient forests for society

Are you a forest owner or manager, policy maker or entrepreneur working on forest related topics, are you a conservation activist or a citizen interested in wood-based products? 

You might know a forest which suffered from fire or bark-beetle damages recently.  You might have been struggling with different – and sometimes conflicting – demands to the forest, no matter if it’s your forest or you are managing it. Or did you have trouble buying wood for e.g. a garden fence or your roof yet? 

If this all doesn’t apply to you, you might still be concerned about all the recent news in the media about damages to our forests in Europe. To address these challenges, the new H2020 project RESONATE aims to generate the needed knowledge and practical guidance for making ​European forests, the services they provide, and related economic activities ​more resilient to future climate change and disturbances.  

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Europe´s eyes on Earth to combat climate change effects in forests

A new publication identified end-user needs and opportunities for the use of climate data in the forestry sector.

The changing climate and increasing disturbance risks due to extreme weather events present major challenges to the forestry sector in Europe. Besides affecting forest productivity, observed effects of climate change include changes in tree growth patterns, drought induced mortality and species distribution shifts. Despite being dramatically impacted by climate change, forests also play a major role in mitigating its effects.

Using climate information in forestry decision-making processes is key to increase the ability to adapt to climate change. Climate data can serve forestry stakeholders in assessing the habitat suitability of different tree species and support management against droughts and pests. Also, the provision of climate change projections to the forestry sector is valuable for long-term decisions on planting strategies and exploitation plans. At the same time, medium-term decisions, such as harvest operations, postponed/anticipated planting, soil treatment methods, timber transportation etc., can be informed by seasonal forecasts. Interestingly, the recent policy ambitions put in motion by the European Commission, through its European Green Deal objectives, highlight the importance of using climate change data.

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Wird in Europa tatsächlich mehr Holz geerntet? Neue Studie stellt Forschungsergebnisse in Frage

Interview mit Forstexperten zu neuen Forschungsergebnissen

Heute ist mit “Concerns about reported harvests in European forests” in Nature eine vom European Forest Institute (EFI) koordinierte Antwort auf die umstrittene Nature-Studie von Ceccherini et al. “Abrupt increase in harvested forest area over Europe after 2015” (Abrupte Zunahme der geernteten Waldfläche in Europa nach 2015) veröffentlicht worden, die deren Ergebnisse stark in Zweifel zieht. In dem Antwort-Artikel zeigen EFI’s Direktor Marc Palahí und 29 Kolleg*innen aus 13 europäischen Ländern, dass die von der Gemeinsamen Forschungsstelle der Europäischen Kommission berichteten großen Waldverluste vor allem auf methodische Fehler zurückzuführen sind.

Mit Jürgen Bauhus, Marc Hanewinkel (beide Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg), Marcus Lindner (EFI), Rupert Seidl und Cornelius Senf (beide Technische Universität München) haben wir verschiedene an der Antwort-Studie beteiligte deutsche Wissenschaftler befragt, um die wissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse in einen größeren waldpolitischen, ökonomischen und ökologischen Kontext einordnen zu können und die methodischen Aspekte etwas genauer zu beleuchten.

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Best practice for forest disturbance management in Europe

From storm events to megafires, from drought to bark beetle damage – with intensified forest disturbance regimes during the last decades we have learned that if we want to mitigate forest risks and prevent negative impacts, we cannot only focus on emergency response and recovery. Thus, preventing disturbances and making forests more resilient has significantly gained in importance along with the insight that we need to learn how to live with intensified disturbances. In the past three years, several networking activities and events as well as fast track sharing of experiences and knowledge during forest related risks crisis have been organized in the framework of the project SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forests (SURE). These activities were aiming at promoting and further developing a European Forest Risk Facility, an evolving knowledge hub consisting of several organisations and experts from all over Europe, coming from the fields of academia, forest practice and risk management, policy and society. After three years (2017-2020) of fruitful activities within SURE, the project reached an end, and we use this opportunity to look back, reflect upon and summarize our work.

Those who are interested in an overview of all the events and activities that took place within the project are invited to check out the record of activities on our website.

Moreover, the latest outputs that were already presented during our final conference in August 2020 are now available online. First, the tool compendium was compiled as an open platform documenting all the learned lessons across Europe collected during the SURE project. Second, we created a map of forest risk management actors, describing the existing responsibilities and disturbance risk governance structures in several European countries. 

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