No storm clouds without silver linings

Written by Alexander Held, Andrea Ortiz, Maria Schloßmacher

Two major storms, Eberhard and Franz, hit Germany and so its most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, last week. Experts are still assessing the full extent of the damage, but what is clear: this huge damage will have long-term impacts on forests. It also demonstrates once again the extent of enormous damages that are caused by storms and the related secondary damages like bark beetle infestation. 

Coping with the aftermath of storm Vaia in North-East Italy

by Silvia Abruscato, Gherardo Chirici, Giorgio Matteucci, and Davide Pettenella

On October 27-30th 2018, the storm Vaia hit North-eastern Italy with peak winds of 200 km/h, which compares to a very strong hurricane, and very relevant rainfall. Vaia has not only been the largest single windstorm event in recorded history causing serious damages to the forests in Italy. The storm was also a singular event that has raised unprecedented public attention because it hit some of the most beautiful and most productive forests in Italy located in the Dolomites Mountains, where several UNESCO world heritage sites full of history, culture, and traditions are located. Finally, Vaia caused enormous economic losses: the spruce and fir dominated mountain forests in the region are stocking twice the average biomass per hectare and their growth rates are also approximately double of the Italian average.

After the first shock and quick response to the damages, it became clear that a “multi-actor collaboration” is needed to develop a strategic approach to deal with the aftermath. Consequently, on February 8th 2019, a national congress was held in the Belluno province in the heart of the damaged area to discuss among the Italian scientific and civil community the impact, management and response perspectives after the Vaia storm. The conference was organized by Università di Padova – Dipartimento TESAF, Fondazione G. Angelini, Comune di Belluno, and SISEF – Società Italiana di Selvicoltura ed Ecologia Forestale. Around 600 participants and a large media visibility demonstrated the exceptionally strong interest in the case. Presentations and video are available here.