Experts from European countries are preparing a common platform to manage the impacts of climate change on forests

The Czech Republic hosted the international workshop “Managing biotic threats in forests – lessons learned from bark beetle calamities”, organized by Forest Europe in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, with the support of the Forestry and Game Management Research Institute (FGMRI-VÚLHM) and the Institute for Forest Management Institute (FMI-ÚHÚL) Brandýs nad Labem.

“The creation of an international platform for sharing information and exchanging experience in managing not only insect disasters, but also forest fires and storms, including an early warning system, it is very important for us at current time, when the impacts of climate change on forests are intensifying. We will continue to support this platform,” said Patrik Mlynář, main director for management of the Forestry Section of the Ministry of Agriculture.

38 experts from 16 European countries participated in the workshop at the turn of May and June, including representatives of international organizations such as the European Forestry Institute (EFI) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Czech Republic was represented by representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, FGMRI-VÚLHM, FMI-ÚHÚL and the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.

These representatives agreed to create a pan-European expert platform to share information on risks to forest ecosystems, including with the aim of drawing up science-based recommendations.

“These meetings represent a unique opportunity to share information and knowledge across Europe. Regarding the uncertainties regarding future climate developments and ecosystem responses, I consider cooperation to be absolutely essential. I believe that the activities of the Forest Risk Knowledge Mechanism will significantly increase our chances of dealing with future challenges,” said Jaroslav Kubišta, director of the Forest Management Institute Brandýs nad Labem.

The preparation of the “Forest Risk Knowledge Mechanism” is divided into 3 pilot phases. The workshop was part of the second one, focused on the issue of biotic harmful agents, which preceded the discussion on forest fires. The following third stage will deal with the issue of wind disturbances.

Workshop participants addressed the possibilities and limits of successfully managing bark beetle pests in the context of climate change, and a comprehensive approach including preparedness, prevention, response and recovery. They paid attention to communication not only at the expert level (sharing data, examples of good practice, and applicable outputs), but also towards the public (media communication) and political representation (expertly supported recommendations).

In cooperation with the Military Forests and Farms of the Czech Republic, s.p. and the Forest Administration of the Archbishopric of Prague, a field excursion was prepared for the participants in south-western Brdy area with examples of measures and restoration of disaster clearings in locations affected by bark beetles, allowing to compare approaches in state and private forests.

“The bark beetle calamity has a down-ward trend in the Czech Republic and in most European countries. However, the total amount of damaged wood is still extremely high, and further development depends significantly not only on the weather, but also on the active measures taken by the forest owners. That is why, the management demonstrations presented during the excursion were very valuable,” said Vít Šrámek, director of the Forestry and Game Management Research Institute.

The launch of the “Forest Risk Knowledge Mechanism”, as an effectively functioning expert network, it is expected in 2024.

The FOREST EUROPE process is based on the voluntary commitments of 47 signatory countries. It was launched already in 1990 with the aim to promote sustainable forest management in Europe. It is currently chaired by Germany, which is preparing a ministerial conference for the next year.

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Illustration photos: FMI-ÚHÚL archive