Managing forests as functional complex networks

Although a variety of forest management approaches to cope with climate change have been proposed worldwide, what has been missing so far is a way to integrate them at appropriate scales, particularly at landscape level, and to put a primary focus on enhancing forest resilience in the Anthropocene.

I suppose that readers of the Resilience blog do not need a long introduction on the myriad of threats that the climatic and global changes pose to forest ecosystems. Mutating climate, drought, unexpected extreme disturbances, sudden shifts in socio-economic conditions but also forest fragmentation, pollution and new pest and diseases are making long-term forest planning more and more difficult. Scientists are still debating on the topic, but many are convinced that we entered in a new geological era: the Anthropocene. How can we therefore manage our forests so that they are more resilient to the high level of uncertainties that characterize this new era?

Deer in Denmark

New Fences in Ireland?

No, not the border fence between Ireland and Northern Ireland, no.

In this blog, we are discussing tree species composition, forest adaptation and conversion towards more resilient forests! Deer management in silviculture is one of the crucial factors to consider, just like enough light for the seedlings and site conditions. And here are the fencing news from Ireland, I quote from the Irish newspaper “Independant”.

“New deer fencing grant among measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests: Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle today announced the opening of three new support measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests. A new scheme to support  ‘Continuous Cover Forestry’, (CCF), which allows for the production of commercial timber while retaining forest cover at all times. Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) is an alternative forest management approach where the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels without clearfelling. The distinctive element of CCF is the avoidance of clearfelling areas greater than 0.25 ha or more than two tree heights wide without the retention of some mature trees. These systems are generally associated with natural regeneration but natural regeneration can be supplemented by planting if required.  

Participation and Integration – Forest Management in Slovenia

Simon Poljanšek, you are the new Slovenian national focal point for the European Network INTEGRATE. Would you please introduce yourself?

Simon Poljansek
Simon Poljansek

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.

Veranstaltung “Waldbau und Waldbewirtschaftung im Klimawandel”

Neue Instrumente für den Waldbesitz in Nordrhein-Westfalen

Angesichts der Veränderungen, die sich aus Klimawandel, Digitalisierung und neuen gesellschaftlichen Ansprüchen ergeben, benötigt die Waldbewirtschaftung effektive IT-unterstützte Management-Instrumente. Im Rahmen der Veranstaltung “Waldbau und Waldbewirtschaftung im Klimawandel” stellt das Ministerium für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (MULNV) am Freitag, den 7. Dezember 2018 in Düsseldorf neue Hilfestellungen des Landes vor, mit denen der Waldbesitz auf die Herausforderungen reagieren kann: das Waldbaukonzept NRW, die landesweite forstliche Standortkarte und das neue Internetportal Waldinfo.NRW.

Discussions on impacts of silvicultural interventions: the Falkenberg Marteloscope

from Andreas Schuck and Loic Duchamp

In the beautiful autumn forest in Vosges du Nord – Forêt de Bitche, France, we organized a training session with 44 foresters from public and private forests on 18th and 19th of October 2018. The Marteloscope ‘Falkenberg’ was set up in the course of European Forest Institute’s Integrate+ project, and it is located on state forest land in a Nature Reserve, in the heart of the Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park (French part of the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Vosges du Nord–Pfälzerwald). 60%, or 76.283 ha of the park are covered by forest, composed of 58% broadleaves and 42% conifers.

One main conservation objective in that nature reserve is to increase forest naturalness. This is achieved by designating strictly protected areas and preserving or restoring forest composition and potential habitats in managed forests.

The symmetry of competition: does the battle take place above or below our feet?

In this article, I talk about the “mode of competition”, in other words whether trees of different species compete more of aboveground or belowground resources when growing in mixed stands. Additionally, I highlight the advantage of mixed forests in the context of climate change.

If you have read some of my articles like What factors determine whether tree species compete or complement each other?, you know how much I like mixed forests. Forests rich in tree species not only are known for providing higher levels of ecosystem services but also be prompter to cope with unexpected disturbances and climatic changes. However, the mechanisms of competitions in multi-species forests are all but clear. Scientists are still studying which combinations of tree species grow better in a particular environment or what factor promote or reduce a positive growth complementarity in secondary forests and/or plantations. In one of my latest posts on the blog Forest Monitor I have tried to explain in simple terms the concept of how complementarity for a give species can be positive or negative when growing in association with other species depending on resource availability.

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 planned and prepared by ANW Deutschland and Pro Silva Europa. It was operationally 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.

Deer management for resilient future forests

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.

EFI Bonn’s fire risks expert joins science-media partnership

EFI Bonn’s fire risks senior expert Alexander Held was selected as a mentor for the Climate Change Immersive Story Accelerator Lookout360°, a new 6-month media support programme for journalists and producers who are eager to get started with immersive stories on climate change. The programme is a pilot project of the recently launched science-media initiative The Lookout Station initiated by European Forest Institute and the Global Editors Network.

Together with Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media
and Dr. John M. Reilly, Co-Director of MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and other mentors, Alexander Held will support a group of 10 journalists by providing his expertise in forest fires, silviculture and deer management.

More information on the programme, trainers and mentors here.

Palm oil plantation (photo by Tim Cadman)

Governing the forests: how fiscal instruments can act as a (dis)incentive to reducing emissions

In recent years, the concept of ‘governance’ rather than ‘government’ has become a popular term for describing the interactions between stakeholders in the sustainable development policy arena. In this context, especially in the arena of forest management, it is used to describe the structures and processes that steer, or co-ordinate the relations between multi-stakeholders (government, business, civil society). Usually, governance refers to human actors, but there are other forces that exercise influence over how forests are managed. One of the most important of all these, is that most essential resource: money. This brief report outlines the role that public finance, and most importantly the fiscal instruments developed by governments, can have a considerable influence over the fate of the world’s forests.

Research undertaken by the author in 2016-2017 investigated the extent to which fiscal incentives encouraged, or discouraged, private sector involvement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiative known as REDD+ (“Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries”).

In Indonesia, REDD+ has been recognized as a potentially significant source of revenue, while at the same time providing an important incentive to contribute to reductions in global deforestation. However, in a series of interviews and surveys, forest-based business stakeholders identified a number of issues impacting on their ability to undertake activities that would lead to reducing deforestation and forest degradation, and emissions.