By: Carrie Ewing, PhD Student at The Ohio State University
We are always happy to have “guest-authors” who give us an insight into their work. Carrie Ewing, PhD Student at The Ohio State University, is currently researching tree genetics to determine the plant pathogen(s) that are causing beech leaf disease (BLD), a new and seemingly lethal disease affecting American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia).
The disease was first discovered in forests
in the northeastern United States and parts of Canada. John Pogacnik, a
biologist at Lake Metroparks in Ohio, first observed BLD in 2012 in northeast
Ohio, U.S.A. The disease has been spreading
rapidly and has now affected forests in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York State, and
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.
Recently, the idea of resilience has started to dominate thinking about all sorts of biological and social systems. It is, in fact, quite an old idea, first introduced in 1973 by C.S. Holling, an ecologist himself. Based on his first seminal paper, Holling and others later extended the concept of resilience to a wide range of systems that include aspects of social and ecological sciences. But what is resilience? And how does it differ from stability?
Holling distinguishes resilience and stability as two opposite characteristics of ecological systems. Stability is the ability of a system to return to the same equilibrium state after a temporary disturbance. “Resilience, on the other hand, is the ability of systems to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables.”
There is still time to submit an abstract to present at this year’s two satellite events during the European Forest Institute annual conference taking place in September on the second biggest island of Italy – Sardinia.
Both events touch upon the aspect of biodiversity at the level of genes. In fact, a rich genetic diversity of forest trees is like a resilience insurance: in the face of a climate change and pests and diseases, some trees will have genes that are resistant to these disturbances, thusenabling the forest to recover after some time.
However, the two scientific seminars go beyond resilience and genetic diversity.
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.
“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.
During the past week, EFI Bonn had once again the opportunity to present its new premises and to host the networking event entitled –“Forest Extension Workshop”. It was initiated jointly by the European Forest Institute and the Finnish Forest Centre (FFC). The two-day workshop started on 22nd of January 2018 and was organized by Marko Lovrić from EFI Headquarters in Joensuu. The event aimed at creating a platform of interchange of expertise, concepts and ideas. It brought together more than thirty participants from 16 countries representing different fields of forest advisory and extension.