Adapting Sustainable Forest Management to Climate Change

Forests have always been a focus in nature conservation. Over the history of nature conservation, an extensive network of protected forests have been created. This protects forests and provides an opportunity to study forest dynamics. Some of these forests are part of the European Wilderness Network, if they are free from human interventions such as logging.

In particular, strictly protected forests (such as Kalkalpen WILDForest) are important to climate change research. Knowledge gained from such research provides a base for best practices in sustainable forest management towards the current climate change.

Please also read: Switzerland adapts to climate overheating

Forest dynamics research

Forest Wilderness which is part of the European Wilderness Network provides a forest which will remain untouched in the coming years. This is a very important aspect for long-term research. In these areas, natural disturbances such as flooding, fire, or disease outbreaks (such as bark beetles) are let happen. Thus no traditional forestry operations such as sanitary logging and fast re-forestation occur. These areas which are impacted by natural disturbances are extremely important to forest dynamic research. This enables us to better understand how spontaneous natural process and disturbances cope together.

Forestry research is already providing us with knowledge of natural dynamics in forests and forest adaptions to climate change.

Sustainable forest management

Lessons learnt from these past studies led to sustainable forest management. This is because it of the growing knowledge that a forest is more than timber. A forest provides many other useful and necessary functions for society; not only for its natural beauty and recreational options, but other environment functions such as soil protection, watershed balance, and an important habitat for many species. A forest is also able to act as a carbon sink. Therefore a forest is an important factor in the mitigation of climate change.

Effective implementation of sustainable forest management ensures that the forest can carry out its multiple functions. Specific management practices – e.g. silvicultural treatments (tending operations, enrichment of gaps, etc.), species selection, modification of rotation cycles, can be adopted to increase forest carbon stocks.

Sustainable forest management activities include:

  •  sustainable practices of forest management and use;
  •  integrated fire management;
  •  management of forest health and vitality;
  •  protection of forest biodiversity;
  •  management and extension of protected areas.

Using knowledge gained from research

Forests, when sustainably managed, can have a central role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Today more and more countries are strengthening forest management practices, with the ambition to safeguard their forests for future generations, and mitigate the effects of climate change. It can also help people dependent on the forest to adapt to new conditions caused by climate change.

Further benefits of sustainable forest management at the global scale also contribute to food security, poverty alleviation, economic development, and sustainable land use.

It is important to continue scientific research in forests about Wilderness, natural dynamics and climate change. The effects of our overheating climate are increasing, and forests will play an important role in the future in mitigating the effects. Therefore it is important to improve sustainable forest management, and also protect more WILDForest. The European Wilderness Society is continuously expanding the European Wilderness Network, and facilitating the stewardship of wild places in order to provide healthy forests for our future generations.

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