Rising threats and resilient solutions: insights from FOREST EUROPE’s webinars

Explore FOREST EUROPE's webinars on genetic diversity and practical strategies to help European forests adapt to increasing drought and climate change, ensuring their resilience and sustainability.

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Photo: FOREST EUROPE

Extreme droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity and, together with rising temperatures, are expected to weaken trees, threatening forest ecosystems and the services they provide. Widespread drought-related tree mortality and dieback have already been detected worldwide, requiring more effective strategies to adapt forests to such droughts and increase their resistance and resilience.

To address this issue, FOREST EUROPE organised a second FoRISK webinar on drought entitled “Adaptation of Forests to Drought in Europe – Practical Strategies” on 17 May in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Forestry, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL). If you missed the seminar, here is a summary of what you should know:

Rising Threats

Extreme droughts are expected to become more frequent and more severe. Our forests require more effective strategies to adapt and strengthen their resilience and resistance. Based on the drought in Central Europe in 2018, the participants learned more about the great damage caused to forests, with damages largely focusing on European beech. The drought led to a partial and irreversible loss of hydraulic conductivity, which reduced the leaf area and might have increased the risk for tree mortality.

Long-term solutions

Mixed forests! Under the assumption that disturbances have a tree species or forest structure specific effect, the introduction of mixed, site-adapted, and structurally rich forests can reduce susceptibility to disturbance and increase stability and resilience. Informed decision support tools might come in handy: One specific tool, introduced during the webinar provides forest owners and managers with site-specific recommendations for selecting tree species best suited to future climate conditions.

Short- to medium-term tactics

Thinning of forest stands: In existing forest stands, thinning can help to adapt to drought. However, its effectiveness depends on the severity of the drought. In moderate drought, moderate thinning can mitigate the decline in growth and reduce mortality.

Want the full report? Click here for a full summary, all presentations and the recording!


Drought affecting Europe’s forests: focus of webinars

In the latest FOREST EUROPE’s “From the roots to the canopy” webinars, a crucial question has been on the agenda: How do forests cope with drought, and how can we support them? As long-lived and sessile organisms, trees must adapt to survive environmental changes. The first webinar highlighted the genetic basis of drought adaptation, exploring the potential and limitations of genetic diversity in forests. The second webinar discussed strategies to protect European trees from rising temperatures and drought, providing insights into practical approaches at all levels and examined the extreme drought event in Central Europe in 2018.

Learn more about a decision support tool for future mixed forest stands and see FoRISK in action! For more information, rewatch the following webinars:

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Forest Europe
FOREST EUROPE (a name for the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe) is the pan-European, voluntary, high-level political process for dialogue and cooperation on forest policies in Europe. FOREST EUROPE develops common strategies on how to protect and sustainably manage their forests.