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.

Mit deutschsprachigen Forstchefs im Bonner Kottenforst

Am Freitag, den 6. Juli 2018, haben Wald und Holz NRW und wir, das Bonner Büro von European Forest Institute (EFI), für die ForstchefInnen von Deutschland, Österreich, der Schweiz, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg und Südtirol eine Exkursion in den Bonner Kottenforst organisiert, um uns über das Spannungsfeld Naturschutz – nachhaltige Waldwirtschaft – Nutzung des Waldes für Erholungszwecke auszutauschen. Die Exkursion fand im Rahmen eines Treffens auf Einladung des Bundesministeriums für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL) in Bonn statt, bei dem waldpolitische Fragen diskutiert wurden.

Um die Integration der verschiedenen Waldfunktionen Nutz/Schutz/Erholung aus forstpraktischem Blickwinkel betrachten zu können, haben wir mit den Forstchefs die Marteloskopfläche „Jägerhäuschen“ besucht und gemeinsam mit Uwe Schölmerich, Leiter des Regionalforstamtes Rhein-Sieg-Erft, vorgestellt. Marteloskope sind Waldflächen, in denen alle Bäume genau vermessen wurden. Baumart, Durchmesser, Holzwert und ökologischer Besonderheiten wie Spechthöhlen oder Rindentaschen sind erfasst und in einer digitalen Karte dargestellt. Anhand dieser Beispiele können ForstmanagerInnen und Studierende, aber auch PolitikvertreterInnen und die interessierte Öffentlichkeit mithilfe einer Tabletsoftware im Wald selbst simulieren, wie man Naturschutzaspekte und wirtschaftliche Erwartungen miteinander in Einklang bringen kann.

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?

How to implement risk management in future forestry? A conference trip to Solsona, Spain

On 6th of June 2018, EFI Bonn’s principal scientist Marcus Lindner and I, Junior researcher Laura Nikinmaa escaped tropical Germany to cool down in the Mediterranean Solsona, Spain, and to participate in the conference “COMMUNICATING RISKS IN Decision Support Systems: from basic research to advanced decision support tools” with 30 other researchers. Hosted by the Forest Science Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), the conference was organized by the SuFoRun project and IUFRO’s Risk Analysis working group 4.04.07. The program provided plenty diverse presentations ranging from using real option analysis to deal with uncertainties to effects of bark stripping on wind resistance of Norway spruce.

Modern storms, modern technologies – is AI the future of forest risk management?

Strengthening weaknesses is one of the starting points in any management or developing plan, but what to do when even identifying them is tricky? Such is the problem forest managers often face while trying to predict and prevent storm damages to forests. The current models to predict storm damages suffer from lack of data, and the expected increase of severe storms caused by climate change adds its own spice to the mix.

South Caucasus – Forest Resilience in Georgia

The World Bank contacted the European Forest Risk Facility to provide experts for an assessment mission to Georgia to consult with the World Bank on possible areas for activities and cooperation.

Between 1 and 9 May 2018, we had the opportunity to travel across the forest landscape of Georgia (Overview of Forests and Forest Sector of Georgia). We assessed the current forest risks and overall forestry situation to identify gaps and challenges for the forestry sector. Based on our experiences we will formulate a report on our findings with recommendations for action. These are then available for the active International Organisations in Georgia.

Increasingly, Georgia’s forests are affected by natural disturbances like fire, wind, pest and disease. Changing climate in combination with land-use, illegal logging and overall high levels of poverty in the rural areas are the driving forces.

When a fire starts to burn

Rachel MacManus, Head of Content at Green Lady Media, has gathered insightful information in her article The growing problem of wildfires in Britain and what to do if you see one for the latest edition of BBC Countryfile Magazine. It discusses the different causes, consequences and ways to tackle this problem. “Aside from the cost of tackling these blazes, and resources diverted from emergencies like traffic collisions and house fires, the damage to the natural habitat can be catastrophic,” Rachel explains.

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.

Turbulent times ahead – and an arc called European Forest Risk Facility?

Do you think that the weather during the last ten years or so has been wilder than during the good old days? Well, it is not just you! A study from European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) shows that extreme weather events have become more frequent over the last 36 years. The increase in frequency can especially be seen in floods and other hydrological events, but also in storms and extreme temperatures, drought and forest fires. It is likely that we are just getting the appetizers and the main course of the more turbulent weather is yet to be served.

The increase in the frequency of the extreme weather events causes more threats to forests. Events that used to occur once in a hundred years might now happen once in a quarter century. Disturbances are also moving to new areas, as seen in the winter fires in Norway in 2014 or wind damages in Catalonian forests the same year. Local knowledge on how to deal with these events might be lacking, which can lead to high economic and sometimes even human losses.

What can be done then to mitigate these changes? In the European Forest Institute, we believe that exchanging the best available information and mutual learning between practice and science across borders is the most efficient way to adapt and deal with the extreme weather. Connecting expert knowledge and the ones in need of it is important in all the faces of crisis management: prevention, preparation, response and recovery.  The European Forest Risk Facility offers exactly that: bringing together experts from science and practice, exchanging knowledge and inspiring to learn new ways to manage forests in the face of more extreme weather. This also involves discussing and thus avoiding to repeat the failures that other have made before. If that happens, a failure can still become a “fantastic failure” to learn from – and the European Forest Risk Facility will provide a platform for that.

Hurricanes and the future of our forests

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.