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Newsletter 2: April 2009


Within the COST Domain of “Forests, their Products and Services” (FPS), the COST Action Echoes has been evaluated by the Domain Committee. The high level of participation has been noted. The strong will to disseminate information has been highlighted through, particularly, this Newsletter. This is an encouragement for the Action secretariat and all of you to actively support and contribute to this exchange of information.

The Domain Committee has also suggested to keep on adding participants from the non-COST countries, reinforcing the involvement of forest policy actors and looking at leading an exploratory workshop proposal to integrate the climate change aspects of all current and recent Actions in the FPS Domain. These suggestions show the strategic importance of the Action and the necessity to make it successful.


About Echoes

New Management Committee members have recently been nominated:
  • In Portugal, Margarida Tome joins Maria José Ferreira and confirms the full participation of Portugal in Echoes;
  • In Belgium, Matteo Campioli stands in for Sebastiaan Luyssaert;
  • In Austria, Michael Englisch joins Manfred Lexer.

Moreover, EFI is officially registered as a non-COST institution participating in the Action.

  • Country reports
A reminder... Country reports are requested by the end of July 2009 (the deadline has been postponed from end of May to end of July in order to be more realistic). The general outline is available on the Echoes website .

  • STSMs
The second call for applications has been disseminated. Applicants have to submit an application before May 15th, 2009. The next calls will be launched with a deadline on mid-September and mid-January.

  • WG2 strives for a harmonized data base on adaptive measures in European forests
In the first general ECHOES workshop in Florence the Working Group WG2 on “Adaptation“ agreed as a first task on a structured and harmonized approach for collecting data for the country reports. The main idea is to build on catalogues of adaptive measures from previously released studies on adaptation in forestry such as the EFI study on “Impacts of Climate Change on European Forests and Options for Adaptation and the IUFRO report on “Adaptation of Forests and people to climate change – A global assessment report .

The aim is to add new context information by specifying links between planned and ongoing adaptation measures in a country and specific forest types, and by focusing on cause-effect relationships in adaptation planning and related uncertainties. Whenever possible data collection activities will use available references such as the European forest types of the European Environmental Agency or the classification approach for forest management concepts developed within the IP EFORWOOD . Beyond constituting a core component of the country reports this comprehensive data base will be a cornerstone in comparing adaptation approaches in forestry throughout EU27 and in identifying “hot spots” and gaps on the knowledge map. A web-based data entry and management tool will support WG2 data collection activities.

Contact: Manfred Josef Lexer
The Joensuu Forestry Networking Week and COST Echoes Task Force Meeting – “Fighting climate change: adapting forest policy and forest management in Europe” 24-29 May 2009, Joensuu (Finland)

Target group: The Joensuu Forestry Networking Week is bringing together people working in research, education, consultancy and business; forest owners and forest managers; representatives of forest-based industries, as well as policy- and other decision makers. Young scientists will meet here experienced scientists, professionals and stakeholders in forestry from different parts of Europe.

Objectives: The Joensuu Forestry Networking Week 2009 aims to promote and enhance discussions on science and policy in the field of climate change and forestry for decision making on the role of forests by combating and mitigating the expected change. It also creates a new research network to accelerate new research projects and activities in this field. STSMs are likely to result from it.
Organisation: The participants will be engaged in discussions, lectures, group work and excursions and will broaden their own expertise and contacts through active participation and networking.

More information in the JFNW Brochure and on the specific website.
This event is organized in co-operation with the COST Action FP0703 ECHOES jointly by the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) , the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the University of Joensuu .

Contacts: Jari Parvianen & Natacha Massu


From the participants…

… In Germany

National Symposium: Active climate protection and adaptation to Climate Change - Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry, 15th - 16th June 2009, Braunschweig, Germany

This national symposium is organized by The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) and the Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries (vTI)

With respect to adaptation to climate change effects and mitigation of climate change, Germany currently assesses the need for action and the potential within all economic sectors. The symposium in Braunschweig focuses on the agricultural and the forestry sectors. The programme includes state-of-the-art reviews and presentations of exemplary projects. It is organized in six main topics, among which several concern forests:
1. Forestry: Climate protection and adaptation to climate change.
2. Soils: Climate protection and adaptation to climate change.
3. Crops - cultivation, breeding, protection: Climate protection and adaptation to climate change.
4. Livestock: Climate protection and adaptation to climate change.
5. Utilization of renewable resources and bioenergy.
6. Consumer behaviour, implementation and evaluation of policies.

For more information please visit the website

… In the Netherlands
Potential impacts of climate change on Dutch forests, mapping the risks. E Verkaik, L.G. Moraal, G-J. M. M; Nabuurs (Alterra Report)

The aim of the study was to assess, spatially explicit, the potential impact of climate change on Dutch forests.

In the study, the effects of four climate scenarios were studied. Decreased water availability in case of summer droughts, increased soil water levels in case of increasing precipitation, forest fire, salinization and insect pests were taken into account. Information on the sensitivity of tree species to these aspects was combined with information on the composition of forests and with information on the exposure to these aspects.
Main results: If drought occurs more often, this might reduce tree growth in a large proportion of forests in the Netherlands. The potential impact of the other aspects was much smaller. A general adaptive strategy should focus on increasing tree species diversity. Most pressing is to increase our knowledge of the drought resistance and vulnerability of tree species.

The report will be available on the Echoes website.

Contact: Gert-Jan Nabuurs

… In Copenhagen
About the Climate Change Congress of March 2009. Summary of session 38: Adapting forests to climate change

Session chair: Niels Elers Koch
Rapporteur: Katrine Hahn Kristensen
The session gathered information from major temperate and tropical forest areas of the world. Specific studies reported from some of the most vulnerable areas in west-Africa, the Asian mega-deltas, and small tropical islands.

The summary of session 38 consists of three separate documents:
  1. Update problems and strategies for adapting forests to climate change (below)
  2. The peer reviewed scientific report “Adaptation of Forests and People to Climate Change – A Global Assessment”. Executive summary and key messages
  3. To be published as IUFRO World Series Volume 22 (appendix)
  4. The Policy brief “Making Forests Fit for Climate Change” with key messages of the assessment (appendix)

Please note that 2) and 3) were confident material until April 18, 2009. Only 1) is summarized here.

Update problems and strategies for adapting forests to climate change
Risk of losing the carbon regulating services of forests
The carbon-regulating services of forests are at risk of being lost entirely as land ecosystems turn into a net source beyond global warming of 2.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels. The loss of carbon-regulating services of forests would seriously accelerate climate change. The response differs from region to region:
  • Tropical forests: Increased productivity where water is available, but decline in dry areas; considerable risk of biodiversity losses
  • Subtropical forests: decreased productivity in most parts; short-rotation plantations provide opportunities; risk of severe biodiversity losses
  • Temperate forests: less affected than other forest types; both increased and decreased tree growth; more frequent storms
  • Boreal forests: particularly affected; increased tree growth in most areas; more fires and pests

Adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand

Successful mitigation requires that forests retain their capacity to adapt to climate change. This means that large reductions in emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation are needed to preserve the adaptive and mitigative capacity of forests. Afforestation is not enough, but often a better strategy than REDD.

Climate changes have significant impact on forest-dependent poor
Adaptation of forests includes not only forest but also the livelihood / economic and social well-being of forest-dependent people. Moreover, forests are also a safety-net for agricultural people. Thus, climate changes will have a significant impact on forest-dependent poor, who are already vulnerable. The strategy is to take advantage of opportunities while reducing vulnerabilities. An example from Africa is the plantation of drought-resistant fruit-trees, which reduce erosion, is an additional fuel source, and provides food security and nutritious value. From India it was reported that non-timber forest products are more vulnerable to climate changes than timber products. Here, the adaptive strategies include vulnerability assessment, capacity building and adaptation measures.

Tropical forests and their biodiversity are at risk
Threat of climate change acts on top of number of existing threats to the worlds rain forests. A simulation study of tropical forest tree species under climate change showed that all studied families and genera suffer habitat loss. Some do gain habitat potential, but this requires migration and suitable habitat (forest) at destination. A study of climatically stable rain forests in west-Africa showed problems with protecting unique forests with high biodiversity and high endemic rates. These National parks / protected forests are not located where the stable rain forests are or the climatically stable forests had already been destroyed. Overall, we need an ambitious, coordinated, global effort to save the tropical forests. Adaptation strategies available are: REDD projects, ecosystem services, and reforestation for conservation before the tipping point is reached.

Sustainable forest management can reduce forest vulnerability
Practices associated with Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) work well in reducing the vulnerability of forests to climate change. However, the current failure to implement SFM limits the capacity to adapt to climate change. Also, there is no universally applicable individual measure for adapting forests to climate change and forest managers will need sufficient flexibility to choose locally appropriate adaptation measures. A number of European studies reported that the most important tools in adaptation to climate changes are: Active management for suitable tree species and provenances; to see forestry in the context of overall land-use; and to clarify the use of exotic species versus the aims for nature conservation. Genetic management to support continued adaptation, the forming of landraces, and selection of suitable genotypes was reported as important tools, not only for local adaptation, but also for transplanting tree species to new regions.

Forest adaptation in a wider perspective
The session debated that deforestation, which causes severe carbon loss, is not a forest problem – it’s caused by mechanisms outside the forest. Correspondingly, adaptation should be seen in cooperation with other sectors. However, this does not excuse forestry from doing its homework as a sector. The session concluded that it is needed to look at a system, which includes not only the forest but also society at a landscape level. And that we need to couple human-environment in a vulnerability framework.

Action now
The session agreed that despite the limitations of current knowledge, climate change is progressing too quickly to allow postponing adaptation actions pending the outcomes of future studies. Moreover, unmitigated climate change is likely to exceed the adaptive capacity of many forests in the course of the current century. Thus, with forests being long-terms site-reservations, management needs to change now and we cannot wait and see if it will be a 2 or 5 degree world.

More information is needed
More information and knowledge is needed on regional and local impacts on climate change socio-economic impacts, and the effectiveness of management and policy measures for adaptation. Several high-resolution modeling approaches at local, landscape, and regional level pinpointed the need for regional data availability, better inventory data, and inter-sectoral coordination. Several scientists pointed out that an efficient use of regulation requires a degree of precision that we do not have.

Contact: Marcus Lindner (EFI )

In Czech Republic
A project on “Carbon cycle of spruce stands – effects of silviculture as a tool for global change impact mitigation and adaptation”

Working group: Irena Marková (head of the working group), Jiří Kulhavý, Ida Drápelová, Ladislav Menšík, Michal Remeš, Tomáš Fabiánek
Institute: Institute of Forest Ecology, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry in Brno, the Czech Republic

Natural plant ecosystems exhibit significant spatial and temporal differentiation of carbon sources and sink, which present specific sensitivity to environmental factors that are spatial and temporal varying. Thus the information about carbon cycle and budget in individual parts of forest ecosystem (biomass, soil) is required.

The aim of this project is assessment of spatial differentiation and temporal dynamics of carbon budget in spruce stands with different silviculture practices (three selected stands with different stand density) due to determination of carbon budget in above-ground (stems, branches, needles) and below-ground biomass (roots), determination of carbon budget in soil profile and determination of input (photosynthetic processes and carbon deposition flux) and output (respiration) of carbon. Description of carbon cycle in selected spruce stands with different silviculture practices will be the result of this project.

The research has been carried out at the study site of Rájec (Drahanská Highland, the Czech Republic) since 2009.

Contact: Irina Markova


… In Switzerland
A 'Forest and climate change' project – led by The Swiss Federal Office of the Environment

The Swiss Federal Office of the Environment has started a research program 'Forest and climate change', in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL. The goal of the program is to improve the scientific understanding in related to forest dynamics under climate change, as a basis for informed decision-making in forest management. The program is composed of 5 work packages:
- Fundamentals and scenarios
- Forest ecosystem services and resources
- Disturbances and early warning systems
- Forest management and adaptation strategies
- Experiments

A first call for projects in the phase 2009-2011 was launched in early March 2009, and more than 30 projects have been submitted to meet the deadline on 15 April 2009. The first projects having successfully passed the review process are expected to start in July 2009.

Contact: Dr. Norbert Kraeuchi , Program leader



Natacha Massu , Echoes secretariat Jean-Luc Peyron, Chairman

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