Participation and Integration – Forest Management in Slovenia

Simon Poljanšek, you are the new Slovenian national focal point for the European Network INTEGRATE. Would you please introduce yourself?

Simon Poljansek
Simon Poljansek

Growing up on a small farm, surrounded by forest and animals, it was easy for me to connect with nature and outdoor activities, road cycling, photography, animals, and becoming a family man. An obvious choice was to study at the University of Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty, Department for Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources. I successfully finished my studies there with a rewarded diploma thesis on the analysis of the amount and structure of deadwood in Slovenian forests. My education continued with a doctoral thesis on dendrochronological investigation of Black pine (Pinus nigra Arnold) in the Balkan Peninsula, which I conducted at the Slovenian Forestry Institute. I used different tree-ring parameters (widths, density and stable isotopes) to investigate the influence of climate (temperature, sunshine, precipitation, river hydrology) or other extreme events (forest fires) on trees, growing in various environments from mountainous sites to urban surroundings.

What are you currently working on in the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food?

The knowledge obtained on this path I described above is now used for monitoring contents and procedures of forest management plans, and assessing forest resources. Furthermore, I use my scientific experience to review targeted research projects, and to collaborate with my team in the development of the “LULUCF” national forestry accounting plan. Finally, a crucial part of my work is to cooperate in different governmental and other institutional associations with the aim of developing system solutions for the sustainable development of forests ecosystems, resilience and biodiversity, alongside with environmental, production and social forests functions.

Borkenkäfer – Fluch oder Segen für unseren Wald in NRW?

2018 war ein katastrophales Jahr für den Wald in NRW – das zeigt auch der kürzlich publizierte Waldzustandsbericht.  Landesumweltministerin Ursula Heinen-Esser kommentierte dazu: “Unsere Wälder sind in einem besorgniserregenden Zustand. Denn durch das Zusammenwirken von Sturm im Frühjahr, gefolgt von extremer Sommertrockenheit und anschließend starkem Borkenkäferbefall in den Nadelwäldern sind die Schäden in diesem Jahr erheblich.” Die massive Population des Borkenkäfers wird derzeit kontrovers diskutiert. Besonders betroffen von dem Befall in NRW sind der Bonner Kottenforst, das Vorgebirge und das Naafbachtal. Laut Regionalforstamt Rhein-Sieg ist die Population des Borkenkäfers so hoch wie seit 1947 nicht mehr.

Während Naturschützer in dem starken Borkenkäferbefall eine regelrechte Bereicherung für die Entwicklung des Waldes sehen, argumentiert auf der Gegenseite die Forstwirtschaft, dass der aktuelle Befall dem Wald langfristig schade, weil er dazu führe, dass ganze Bestände aussterben.

Begünstigt durch den trockenen Sommer konnte sich der kleine Käfer erheblich vermehren. Der BUND (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland) beschreibt den Populationsschub als Zeugnis der Selbstheilungskräfte des Waldes. Dieser sei damit nicht nur in der Lage, sich an die klimabedingten Veränderungen anzupassen, indem er sich von einem Nadelforst hin zu einem Naturwald entwickele, sondern die Borkenkäfer bedeuten dem BUND zufolge auch einen Nahrungszuwachs für viele Tiere, wie etwa den Specht.

Diese durch den Borkenkäferbefall ausgelösten Veränderungen, die von Naturschützern so positiv bewertet werden, sieht die Forstwirtschaft mit starken Bedenken. Deswegen wurden in den vergangenen Monaten viele Hektar Wald kahlgeschlagen, um der Ausbreitung des Borkenkäfers entgegenzuwirken. Der BUND kritisiert dieses Vorgehen der Forstwirtschaft, da im Zuge der starken Abholzung auch der Waldboden und somit die Lebensgrundlage der Bäume gefährdet würden.

Mehr Hintergrund zu dem Thema und weiterführende Artikel hier:

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 06.01.2019

Artikel im Bonner General-Anzeiger, 29.12.2018

Pressemitteilung von Wald und Holz NRW, 31.10.2018

BUND Statement zum Borkenkäfer-Befall im Bayerischen Wald


Introduction to oFOREST

The project oFOREST, funded by the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, Switzerland aims at

  • identifying and reviewing relevant examples of integrated forest management
  • providing an overview over existing principles and concepts
  • establishing and maintaining a network of forest expertise and increasing the «tool-box» of management options in multifunctional forest management.

The main product will be a book publication that includes real forest management examples on an enterprise basis and theoretical background chapters on the specific framing situations in forestry across Europe. Influencing factors on developments but also the potentials for adaptations and changes will be analysed for the different regions.

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 planned and prepared by ANW Deutschland and Pro Silva Europa. It was operationally 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.

Bark beetle outbreaks and the future of European forests

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.

Deconstructing a complex future for the forest-based sector

Informed decision-making requires information from both past experiences and knowledge about the future. This also applies to forest-based sector – especially when considering challenges like climate change mitigation or biodiversity conservation. While the future can be difficult to predict, one way to analyse it is to use scenario-planning methods. However, the use of scenario is also a process of priority-setting, more specifically, scenarios are a reflection of sectoral, public and other development priorities. Having this in mind, the paper Deconstructing a complex future: Scenario development and implications for the forest-based sector which is published in Forest Policy and Economics reviews how the use of scenarios may affect EU forest-related policy.

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.

Establishing a European Forest Risk Facility

From pests and insect damages to megafires and storm events – European forests are affected by diverse and often transnational disturbances, with profound impacts on forest ecosystem services and livelihoods. In response to these challenges the European Forest Institute (EFI) together with risk management stakeholders from all over Europe is establishing the European Forest Risk Facility, an innovative platform of exchange and knowledge transfer on forest disturbances, risk prevention and management. Connecting science, practice and policy, the constitution of the Risk Facility is one of the main objectives of the project SUstaining and Enhancing the REsilience of European Forests (SURE) coordinated by EFI’s Bonn Office. The Risk Facility collects and distributes data and information for a better understanding of forest risks and facilitates the exchange of good practices, ultimately enabling better-informed decisions in natural resource management and policy.

Cui bono? – Discussing aerial forest firefighting

A rough estimate of (business) interest in aerial firefighting

In general, only 10% of a fire management budget is spent on fuel load management for prevention and 90 % are spent on fire suppression. In these 90% the majority again is dedicated to aerial assets. This article would like to stimulate a reflection on how to create more balance in the use of fire management budget. 

This compilation of thoughts on the monetary benefits of aerial firefighting is not intended to be conclusive, but rather a suggestion –  a suggestion that hopefully provokes further conversation among diverse stakeholders about how the urgently needed balance between fire suppression (response) and land- and forest management (prevention, mitigation, resilience) can be reached.

This short text does clearly not intend to say we do not need aerial firefighting. Of course we need any support that we can get while fighting unwanted fires. The intention however is to motivate equivalent political will and budget for prevention and mitigation, for increasing the resilience of the land and to make firefighting safer and more effective.

Creating a sustainable and inclusive forest-based bioeconomy in Europe

New EFI study assesses the scientific evidence

by Rach Colling

The bioeconomy has mobilised significant investments in technology, research and innovation. New and innovative bio-products and related services have emerged, and related niche markets show dynamic growth. The future of the bioeconomy, however, raises questions relating to its development potential, but also its sustainability.

The science-based study Towards a sustainable European forest-based bioeconomy – assessment and the way forward provides a synthesis of existing knowledge for policymakers on the importance of forests and the forest-based sector in contributing to the future European bioeconomy. It assesses the economic, social and environmental sustainability of a forest-based bioeconomy, and looks at issues that may affect its development.