Report urges collaborative effort to better enable our forests to adapt to climate change and to store carbon
Forest Research scientist Dr Gail Atkinson reports on collaborative work by researchers and forestry practitioners from across Europe to identify innovative ways to tackle climate change.
Back in December 2017, I reported on the work of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) focus group working to identify ‘New Forest Practices and Tools for Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change’. Now via the Coordinating Expert, Marcus Lindner, the group has released its final report.
The report draws together examples of good practice in forest climate change mitigation and adaptation from across Europe and proposes seven operational groups to progress these practices. It goes on to suggest developing Operational Groups to bring innovation into practice:
- Explore methods to boost the use of broadleaf species by increasing their potential in forest regeneration
- Develop or gather resources and tools to foster local adaptation in forest management by enhancing awareness and peer to peer learning
- Test methods to improve assisted regeneration or afforestation in drought-prone areas
- Develop a user-friendly early warning system on local forest health issues which can assess the situation and raise the alarm when necessary
- Explore ways to enhance landscape management by helping individuals to make decisions aligned with strategies to fight climate change
- Develop collective and effective plans to mitigate climate change effects (drought, forest fires), promote actions for ecosystem resilience and/or increase awareness of all players
- Analysis of mitigation options along specific value chains to improve carbon balance
The report goes on to list research needs common to all countries, these include:
- Local/regional guidelines for the implementation of innovative silvicultural practices to adapt forests to expected future conditions
It was felt to be critical to develop guidelines for the implementation of innovative silvicultural practices which support adaptation alongside a network of demonstration plots to show these silvicultural practices ‘in action’. These practices could be supported with decision support systems designed to operate at a local scale (i.e. stand or farm scale), coupled with a risk assessment tool to inform decisions about what to expect in the future regarding changing species, practices, and economics.
- Improved understanding of how to make climate change adaptation incentives more effective and efficient
Within this topic, there was interest in the role of economic incentives which can operate under differing social and political situations and which could enable forest owners to initiate changes in such a way to set up long-term commitments to adaptation.
- The study of carbon dynamics related to fire regimes, land uses and management options
Here the development of techniques and practices to manage fire risk in the forest needs to be underpinned by more effort to understand different aspects of carbon dynamics related to the fire regime as these are affected by forest species, land uses (e.g. monocultures, rewetting wetlands, reforestation and practices such as agroforestry), and management options (e.g. wildfires versus prescribed burning).
- Research to evaluate how to encourage and enable knowledge exchange
There was also recognition that work is needed to weigh up the approaches available to share knowledge about climate change adaptation across the European forestry sector.
Further information about the work of the group can be found on the EIP-AGRI website
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Chartered Foresters.