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Tag: forest risk

Showcasing Resilience in a cake

Generally, it can be very challenging to communicate recent research advances in an understandable way to the public. To make it a bit sweeter, a bake challenge was held at the University Freiburg where participants were tasked with transforming PhD topics into appetizing creations. RESONATE researcher Julius Willig couldn’t resist the challenge and presented a cake with 2 forest management scenarios.

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Forests do not end at national borders – how can united knowledge help Europe’s forests?

This is a report made by three representatives from the International Forestry Students’ Association during their voluntary work for the HLPD 2023 organization.

On November 9, government representatives and practitioners from all over Europe came together in Berlin for the second FOREST EUROPE High-Level Talks to address one question: How can sustainable forest management help make Europe’s forests more resilient to the consequences of climate change?

For those who don’t know, FOREST EUROPE is a pan-European forest policy process at the ministerial level in which guidelines, criteria, and indicators of sustainable forest management are developed. And we had the opportunity to be the youth representatives.

What have we seen? What are the bullet points we, the Youth, take from this day full of panel discussions? This is our perspective on the topic of „growing healthier forests“ and the efforts the government representatives make in their countries.

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Protecting your home from forest fires at zero cost: saving forests and money

The FireWise communities are an inspiring example of good practices applied in the Mediterranean context that help us defend ourselves against the consequences of forest fires. These practices are being documented by the ResAlliance project to promote knowledge exchange across the region.

When a house, a garden, or private land burns down, it is not just property that burns. What goes away are the daily lives of entire families and communities, which subsequently have to try to get back on their feet with great difficulty and after a long time. All this happens every time a forest fire breaks out.

The European project ResAlliance is collecting good practices to improve land resilience in the context of the Mediterranean basin, especially those necessary to deal with the consequences of climate change, such as prolonged periods of drought and forest fires. These include those related to the increase in the number and intensity of forest fires, which are increasingly frequent and intense and with whose risk we must learn to live with now, not ‘tomorrow’.

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The Vaia storm five years later – lessons for forests and people

By Alberto Pauletto, FSC Italia

At the end of October 2018, tropical storm Vaia brought heavy rains and winds of up to 200 km/h to Northern Italy, killing 37 people and unleashing damage estimated at almost 5 billion euros. Vaia also affected parts of France, Croatia, Austria, and Switzerland, but Italy sustained the worst forestry destruction in its recent history, with more than 14 million trees felled. The Asiago Oltre Vaia project was an initiative of the Municipality of Asiago  –  with the support of numerous entities such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Italia, Treedom, and the University of Padua  –  designed to draw lessons from the catastrophe to create more resistant and resilient forests for the future.

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ForestMoocForChange: join the first free online course on Continuous Cover Forestry

Today forests are under increasing pressure: on one side society demands productivity and multipurpose use, while on the other side there’s increasing pressure from climatic extremes and intensification of forest disturbances.

We need constructive responses to these pressures like integrative forest management approaches and close-to-nature solutions to both enable the multipurpose value of our forest as well as to enhance their biodiversity and resilience in the face of climatic disruption. However, one of the main hurdles to enable new management systems is the general lack of knowledge and expertise on alternative management options available, and we have a solution for that!

ForestMoocForChange is a new and free online course providing an introduction to continues cover forestry, covering the various aspects of this innovative forestry approach over an 8-week period. The course includes numerous videos produced in the field by experts, managers and owners. Each week, a live meeting will be organised with the speakers enabling you to ask your questions and discuss the subject covered. From discovering how continuous cover works and its dynamics, to questions of an economic, ecological or social nature, the MOOC is designed to be comprehensive and aimed at everyone. 

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Fuelling the Forest Fire Policy – From the groundwork to an international audience

It cannot be stressed enough: More than 100 participants from 22 countries gathered in the Polish forest to attend the SNEP (Association of Independent Firefighting…

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Managing your forest or not? Find out with the INFORMA Forest Management Platform

By Jonas Simons and Bart Muys (KU Leuven)

Imagine you are responsible for a large, forested area in Europe. Will you manage it, or let nature run its course? If you decide to manage your forest, what would be the consequences? Would it store more carbon? Would it use its resources more efficiently, or produce more wood? What about biodiversity conservation? Would the unmanaged choice have more bird species? Another factor to consider is the frequency of disturbance events, such as fires and windstorms, which is increasing due to climate change. Since you will want to keep the resilience of your forest high, which management option would contribute better to this goal?

Unfortunately, current research answers these questions ambiguously. The relationships between the management of forests, provisioning of several ecosystem services and resilience to disturbances remain rather unclear. In addition, several of the ecosystem services we expect from forests have trade-offs between each other. The bottom line is: before deciding what to do with your forest, you should know your viable management options (including the decision to not manage), and which consequences different implementation options have on how your forest functions. In Work Package 2 (WP2) of INFORMA, led by KU Leuven, we will investigate this knowledge gap. To do so, we are developing the INFORMA Forest Management Platform: a new, large database that is specifically designed to answer management-related questions for European forests. 

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Forest fires, field recorders, and four females 

It is Monday, 6 am. My Colleague Patricia and I (working for Land Life Company) are leaving our office in Burgos heading to Ribera de Folgoso (León), where our SUPERB colleagues from CESEFOR Judit and Rocio are waiting for us. Today we will accompany them to collect and place again field recorders in the plots of our Spanish SUPERB demo in Castilla/León. 

Within the SUPERB project, we have 12 Demo-areas across Europe. In our Spanish demo we amongst other activities investigate degraded areas after a recent wildfire, and look at different states of forest recovery. In this regard, the aim of the field recorders is to identify different bird and bat species present across all these different recovery levels. Birds and bats play a very important role in many habitats as pollinators, insect controllers, dispersers, “reforesters” by regurgitating, defecating, or burying seeds, and they help the tree to “awake” the seed as it passes through their digestive system. Finally, they are of course indicators of biodiversity. Thus, their presence, or absence, can tell us a lot about the state of our forest.  

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Experiencing an excursion through the eyes of a forest modeler 

For the RESONATE project, my task aims at developing high resolution future forest trajectories and disturbance maps for the European continent. Continental scale modelling always comes along with trade-offs regarding the detailed processes. Taking this into account, we follow a bottom-up approach, where we use detailed information from local process-based forest simulations to train deep neural networks. For this, we collected forest simulations under different climate scenarios from hundreds of locations across Europe, covering large gradients of environmental and climatic conditions. By combining simulations from different regions, we can explore the relationship between forest dynamics and climate signals using deep neural networks. These neural networks learn to represent forest dynamics depending on environmental and climate conditions, allowing us to upscale the forest dynamics to continental scale. We believe that with this approach we will make a step towards better capturing local scale dynamics at the macroscale.  

But guess what, forest modeling means we spend most of the time in front of our screen, working on code and data that eventually allow a glimpse into the future of forest ecosystems. Although I spend a lot of my leisure time hiking, cycling and sometimes ski touring in the mountains, professionally I spend very little time in the field. Therefore, I was really happy to join the excursion as part of a conference we organized in Berchtesgaden some months ago. The occasion to go to the field with colleagues who spend a lot of time there and visit the system that I am currently modelling is very special and of course informative. And for me, coming from a macroecology background, it is also particularly important to see gradients in the mountain landscape and discuss their impact on vegetation processes as well as disturbances.

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‘Europe’s forests increasingly under pressure from climate-driven disturbances 

Every summer we see in the news flames burning down trees and houses, firefighters pouring water on mountain sides. In the winter we see massive windstorms blowing off entire forest landscapes. We read about very small insects that kill millions and millions of trees in few years. 

In parallel, we are also observing trees becoming political in Europe. Placed at the core of many policy documents and climatic pledges, forests and their climate mitigation potential are being increasingly recognised as key in the critical achievement of European climate and biodiversity targets, as well as for the many other services they provide to society.  

Media and policy attention underline that we urgently need more knowledge and sound research results on how disturbances develop, how they impact European forests and the so-called “ecosystem services” they provide, and how to respond to the seemingly increasing forest disturbance risks. A team of forest researchers from Wageningen University, the European Forest Institute and numerous research institutes across Europe investigated forest disturbances over the past 70 years and can now provide ground-breaking results in the paper “Significant increase in natural disturbance impacts on European forests since 1950” published in the journal “Global Change Biology”. 

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