Policy and practice review of compatibility and suitability of climate change adaptation and integrated forest management measures in Europe

Within the INFORMAR project, a policy and practice review by means of literature and survey analysis was done to identify and categorise different forest management measures attributed to integrated forest management (addressing here the integration of nature conservation measures in SFM) on one hand, and climate adaptation on the other hand, on the stand, landscape and policy level in four European bioclimatic zones. The literature analysis covered mainly scientific literature on integrated forest management/ biodiversity considerations in sustainable forest management as well as on climate change adaptation in forest management. Survey data included two questionnaires developed by the Forest Europe Expert Group on Adaptation to Climate Change. We assessed the potential for synergy or conflict between integrated forest management and climate change adaptation measures (integrating biodiversity measures versus adapting forests to climate change) in a compatibility analysis. Furthermore, we use a set of criteria, including expert judgement from the second survey, to assess the suitability of current climate change adaptation measures to remain effective in light of currently observed climate change related extreme events.

The results showed that several measures to enhance forest biodiversity and adapt forests to climate change are compatible with possible synergies. Most important are measures relating to the diversification of tree species and to increase structural diversity in forest stands. The objectives to enhance forest biodiversity and adapt forests to climate can also result in management measures that are in potential conflict to each other. Significant examples for this may be the use of non-native tree species, the introduction of non-local genetic material and the shortening of forest stand rotation ages. The magnitude and significance of recent extreme events indicate that climate change is more rapidly advancing than foreseen, and that adverse climate change impacts may soon exceed previous expectations. Considering these recent events and foreseen trends, it is crucial to evaluate whether the proposed integrated forest management and climate change adaptation measures are deemed suitable and sufficient. A set of general questions is proposed to guide forest managers through a suitability check procedure. However, it is important to underline that management recommendations need to be adapted to the local site conditions and forest management context.

In a forthcoming INFORMAR report and an associated scientific journal article these interrelation between adaptation to climate change and improved integration of nature conservation in forest management will be analysed and discussed in relation to the currently observable rapidness of climate change, and its impacts on forest ecosystems. Preliminary results of this work have already been presented in two conferences:

  • Genetics to the rescue - Managing forests sustainably in a changing world, Avignon 27-31 January 2020 [Marcus Lindner, Joost de Koning and Hans Verkerk: “Innovative forest genetic resource management and adaptation to climate change – understanding management constraints to inform policies”] See below.
  • Governing and managing forests for multiple ecosystem services across the globe, Bonn 26-28 February 2020 See more here.

Genetics to the rescue - Managing forests sustainably in a changing world