Simon Poljanšek, you are the new Slovenian national focal point for the European Network INTEGRATE. Would you please introduce yourself?
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.
You thought that humans were the only species that can affect areas far away from where they live? Think again. The forests in India might be the culprits of the rainy days you are having in Germany now.
Recent research has shown that forests and vegetation in general can control the weather across great distances, making the forests and climate even more interconnected than previously thought according to an article published in Quantamagazine. Plants, especially trees, are fascinating organisms: they pump up water from the soil to the atmosphere and simultaneously grab carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into themselves and soils. The features that make this transportation possible are tiny pores on the leaves’ surface, called the stomata. One leaf can have more than one million stomata. So in a large forest the number of stomata is stratospheric and the amount of water they pump can be trillions of liters!
The growing group of researchers studying the interactions between vegetation and climate can now estimate how a forest loss or gain in a certain area can sway the weather patterns in others. One of these scientists is Professor Abigail Swann, the head of the Ecoclimate Lab in the University of Washington. In her recent studies, she has found the teleconnection: the plant communities around the globe are connected by the atmospheric mechanics. Essentially, the effect is similar to that of El Niño, where the warm surface water in the East Pacific Ocean causes heavy rains in South America and Africa as well as drought in Southeast Asia and Australia.
The Annual Pro Silva Ireland forestry tour 2018 was heading towards Obernai, France where the French National Forest Office’s (ONF) silviculture trainer Marc-Etienne Wilhelm hosted the “Irish forestry invasion” for 3 days. A total of 27 members of Pro Silva Ireland participated in the tour, indicating the strength of interest in continuous cover forestry (CCF) among Irish foresters, forest ecologists and woodland owners at the present time.
As a participant in the tour, I (Ted Wilson) took the opportunity to extend my travels and visit the Martelscope training sites at Mooswaldand Rosskopf, near Freiburg, Black Forest, Germany. My work is based at the Teagasc Forestry Development Department, Ashtown Research Centre, and at the School of Agriculture and Food Science (Forestry Section), University College Dublin, both in Dublin, Ireland. My current research focuses on CCF, and my main project is called TranSSFor. This deals with the transformation of Sitka spruce plantations to continuous cover forestry. Related to silvicultural and production objectives of the research project is the issue of training, which was the focus of a highly productive meeting with Alex Held and Andreas Schuck, who are with the European Forest Institute.
EXEMPLARY FOREST UNITS OF UNEVEN-AGED FORESTRY
IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
25 years of pure even-aged Norway spruce stands transformation and Pro Silva principles application within Forest District Kocanda
PLACE: hotel Medlov, Fryšava pod Žákovou horou, Czech Republic
DATE: 25th and 26th October 2018
Even-aged and mono-culture. This is translating into high risk and vulnerability of forest stands and the call of forest research is to transform and convert single-species, even-aged forest stands to more resilient structures. Such stable and more resilient forest structures are promoted for instance by Pro Silva since 1989: The Close-to-Nature Forestry Pro Silva Principles as well as the Guidebook to Continuous Cover Forestry (now available in French, English and German) describe a forest management approach to more resilient and more bio-diverse forests.
However, across Europe, we are still facing extensive areas where past forest management practices and historical reasons have established those high-risk, even-aged, mono-culture forests.
The Czech republic is just one of many countries with this forestry legacy. Pro Silva Bohemica PSB , in cooperation with the European Forest Risk Facility is happy to invite interested international participants to join a two day event where 25 years of forest transformation can be observed and shared. A truly important experience to share in our journey to more resilient and close-to-nature forestry!
We are looking forward to a pan-European event, discussions and experience exchange!
“We must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature – or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead”, says Sir Robert Watson – chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This is but one somber, yet realistic conclusion drawn from the most recent reports on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
By the end of March, IPBES approved four landmark science reports on biodiversity and ecosystem services for different regions of the world and published a report on land degradation and restoration worldwide. These reports, comparable to the IPCC reports on climate change, result from three years of work, involving more than 550 leading scientists from over 100 countries to assess the state of worldwide biodiversity and ecosystem services. The main findings draw a gloomy future, however not without mentioning the one or the other ray of hope.
The network was initially brought into life by German federal minister Christian Schmidt and his Czech colleague Marian Jurêcka, and subsequently supported by the European Commission’s Standing Forestry Committee. Forest management challenges related to nature conservation are rather similar across Europe. States within and outside the EU already plan on being actively involved in the network. INTEGRATE member states will provide forest areas on which their successful management strategies can be exemplified.