How to manage European forests in the 21st Century?

On 3-5 March 2020, FOREXCLIM, together with two other European research projects (FORMASAM and Reforce), held a conference “Managing forests in the 21st Century” at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany. As an official partner in the FOREXCLIM project, EUSTAFOR was invited to join the conference and had the chance to learn about the latest research developments and recommendations on challenges and opportunities of today’s forest management related to the effects of climate change.

Over the last decades, European forests have been managed sustainably, meeting European society’s growing demands for climate change mitigation, protection against natural hazards, recreational space, development of the bioeconomy and providing a home for biodiversity. Still, negative effects of climate change to European forests cannot be overlooked. Therefore, more than 100 scientists from institutions ranging from the German National Park Berchtesgarden to the US Oregon State University and Russian Higher School of Economics participated in three days of intense discussions on the role of forests and forest management in the context of climate change. The conference was focused on addressing climate change impacts, as well as the needs for mitigation and adaptation, especially with regard to:

  1. The impacts of climate extremes and disturbances
  2. The management challenges (and options) for resilient forests?
  3. What can be done to increase the contribution of forest management to climate change mitigation?

Many issues were discussed by the experts. All agreed that forests are under increasing stress from changing conditions – namely the recent extraordinarily dry and warm summers – and all are worried what the next years will bring.

The workshop participants concluded that what a forest can or cannot do under climate change really depends on how it is managed. Storing carbon is not the only thing forests are good for, especially since the potential for sustainable afforestation is limited due to the scarcity of suitable lands. Forests can have an important cooling effect for the region they grow in, and they substantially influence water cycles from evaporation and cloud formation to rain and groundwater formation. Yet this depends on, among others, the trees which are planted and, hence, on forest management.

After three days of intense discussions and talks, participants had the chance to join field excursions in the Brandenburg forest or visit the Dendrolab of the GeoForschungszentrum and tale a historical tour across the “Telegrafenberg”.

The book of abstracts for the conference can be downloaded here. The FORMASAM-Homepage contains the full agenda and the PDF-Slides of the talks.

Published 15/03/2020

Mr. Piotr Borkowski

Executive Director

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