by Pavel Bednář, Andreas Schuck and Alexander Held
Risks to our forests are increasing due to climate change and its consequences. Recently, we have seen a raising number of wind storms, wildfire and bark beetle outbreaks. Thus there is a need to find feasible options to adapt forest management to such developments. Especially homogeneous coniferous forest stands both in tree species composition and age have shown to become vulnerable.
On the 25th and 26th of October 2018 Pro Silva Bohemica invited forest and nature conservation managers, researchers, forest owners and policy representatives from the Czech Republic and other European countries including Austria, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland to share their experiences on transforming pure even-aged Norway spruce stands into uneven-aged mixed forests. Around 110 participants attended the conference in Fryšava pod Žákovou horou about 2 hours’ south-east of Prague. The importance of both the topic and the workshop was underlined by the official patronage of Miroslav Toman, the Czech Minister of Agriculture.
Laut einer dpa-Meldung vom 7. September 2018 hat Bundesminsterin für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft Julia Klöckner zu den Schäden für den deutschen Wald Stellung bezogen, die unter anderem durch die lange Dürreperiode ausgelöst wurden. Besonders Fichtenbestände sind betroffen, aber beinahe alle Baumarten haben unter den extremen Wetterlagen gelitten. Das Ausmaß des Schadens kann laut Klöckner erst mit Verzögerung festgestellt werden, konkrete Zahlen werden im Herbst diesen Jahres erwartet. Natürlich spielt auch das Wetter in den kommenden Wochen eine Rolle.
How does the German forest look like for visitors from the north? There are taller trees and the exotic European beech, but the Norway spruce reminds us of home. We exchanged that and some other thoughts with a delegation from the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry who visited the Bonn Office on the 29th of August. They were hosted by colleagues from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) who also participated in a field visit to an urban forest in Bonn.
After a brief introduction about the EFI Resilience Programme, we had the opportunity to visit the Jägerhäuschen Marteloscope site, where Uwe Schölmerich, the head of the Regional Forest Enterprise Rhein-Sieg-Erft, kindly guided us.
Despite the obvious differences between German and Finnish forest ecology and management, many of the challenges we face are similar. Bark beetles have been causing damages in both countries for a long time, and the exceptionally hot and dry summer brought forest fires to the agenda in an entirely new way. Halting the loss of biodiversity is also an important part of current forest management and planning even if the systems are different.
Forest managers and other interested groups learn about integrated forest management in both countries. The use of demonstration sites such as e.g. Marteloscopes has proven a valuable tool for educating and creating a dialogue among various interest groups relating to different aspects of forest management. The Finnish delegation at the Jägerhäuschen Marteloscope clearly recognized it. They suggested adding a carbon sequestration component to the I+ software training tool which allows to visualize, how forest management decisions affect the carbon balance of the site and how wood products from harvested wood contribute to store carbon over many years. We thanked the Finnish delegation for this valuable input and expressed our hope that Marteloscopes may also find application in training and education in Finland in the near future.
 Juha Niemelä – The Head of the Natural Resources Unit; Heikki Granholm – Forest Counsellor; Teemu Seppä – Senior Adviser
 Axel Heider – Manager ‘Forestry Department’; Matthias Schwoerer- Head of ‘International Forest Policy Unit’; Aljoscha Requardt – International Forest Policy Unit
The European Union’s Observation Programme, Copernicus, and its Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) predicted that in July smoke from fires in the Sakha, far east of Russia, would travel an astonishing 9500 km – across the Arctic Ocean to Alaska, North-West Canada and the west coast of Greenland.
According to a recent press release, “CAMS Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS) estimates that between 2003 and 2017 Russian wildfires emitted on average about five mega tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per day. At the end of June this year, the fires suddenly increased in intensity, upping their carbon dioxide output to approximately 20 mega tonnes per day.” This is not new; Siberian summer season is no stranger to wildfires, but being able to predict the movement of the smoke can help to prevent effects of affected areas.
In einem Interview mit der Deutschen Welle betont Waldbrandexperte Alexander Held von EFI’s Resilience Programme die wichtige Bedeutung von Brandprävention im Wald und sagt: “Würden wir unsere Hausaufgaben machen, hätten wir keine Feuer zu bekämpfen, die erstens Menschenleben kosten und zweitens so intensiv brennen, dass wir Ökosysteme über Jahrzehnte zerstören. Doch 90 Prozent des Feuerbudgets wird in die Brandbekämpfung investiert statt in Prävention und Landmanagement.”
Auf der Basis von seiner langjährigen Tätigkeit als Waldbrandmanager u.a. in Florida, Kalifornien und Südafrika beschäftigt sich Held zum Beispiel mit “Pflegefeuern”, die die Artenvielfalt erhöhen, und mit kontrolliertem Brennen, um Brennmaterial präventiv zu entfernen und damit große und schwer kontrollierbare Flächenbrände zu vermeiden. Der Berater kritisiert, dass es für Präventivprojekte zu wenig politische Unterstützung und demzufolge keine Finanzierung gibt. Wenn es dann aber brenne, sei genügend Geld für Löschflugzeuge vorhanden, so Held.
Warum Mischwälder feuerfester sind, welchen Nutzen langfristige Forschung zu Waldbrandschutz und -bekämpfung haben könnte und was die Auswirkungen des Klimawandels zu den aktuellen extremen Wetterlagen beitragen, kann man im DW-Interview “Waldbrandmanager empfiehlt: Vorsorge statt teurer Löschtechnik”, das von der Journalistin Karin Jäger geführt wurde, lesen.
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.
Was bedeutet Resilienz, wie sieht der Wald in 100 Jahren aus und wann ist ein Baum eigentlich so richtig alt? Diese und mehr Fragen beantwortete Georg Winkel Mitte Mai in einem Interview im WDR 5. In dem Interview mit Moderator Jürgen Wiebicke erzählt der Leiter des Resilience Programmes des European Forest Institute (EFI) nicht nur von seinem (neuen) Lieblingswald in Oberwinter mit den alten Bäumen und der fast schon romantischen Atmosphäre, sondern auch von den Konsequenzen des Klimawandels auf europäische Wälder und diskutiert darüber, wie man den ökonomischen Wert des Waldes bemessen kann.
In New York City, urban forests are heavily used for recreation, reports the article A Plan for New York City’s Forests. Yes, Forests., recently published by The New York Times. Unfortunately, city forests in the Big Apple are at stake: Due to climate change and invasive species that can change soil conditions, they risk losing wildlife and plants. A nonprofit group called the Natural Areas Conservancy therefore focuses on how to prepare the city’s forests for a changing climate, supposing that urban forests will be affected a generation or two before differences begin to appear in rural areas. This involves planting tree species resilient to climate change and – of course – requires financial investment. “Now, in close consultation with the Parks Department, the conservancy has prepared a long-term plan for the care of the city’s forests, what it says is the first of its kind in the nation. The conservancy is eager to export it and is training other nonprofit groups in the city to use data from the survey to their advantage”, states the article. More information on how the future urban forest should look like you will find here.
After Hurricane Maria blast over the Island of Puerto Rico in September 2017, the damage was severe and the aftermath difficult to evaluate. It flooded whole districts and left the island without electrical power for an extensive amount of time. Thousands of acres of Puerto Rico’s forests were damaged, and while it is estimated that 28,000 acres of the National Park El Yunque were destroyed, field research on the ground was still inconclusive. While remote-sensing data – satellite images or laser based measurements – are useful for preliminary results, they cannot replace basic scientific work on the ground. A recent New York Times article featured a small team of researchers, which took on the task of evaluating Maria’s aftermath in El Yunque and compared ground observations with existing satellite data of the damage.
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.