Climate Change Increases the Drought Risk in Central European Forests: What Are the Options for Adaptation?. Hlásny, T., Mátyás, C., Seidl, R., Kulla, L., Merganičová, K., Trombik, J., Dobor, L., Barcza, Z., & Konôpka, B.
Climate Change Increases the Drought Risk in Central European Forests: What Are the Options for Adaptation? [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
The paper presents information on the projected drought exposure of Central Europe, describes the anticipated dynamics of the regional forests, and identifies measures facilitating the adaptation of forests to climate change-induced drought risk. On the basis of an ensemble of climate change scenarios we expect substantial drying in southern Slovakia and Hungary, while such trends were found to be less pronounced for the Czech Republic and Austria. In response to these climate trajectories, a change in species composition towards a higher share of drought tolerant species as well as the use of drought resistant provenances are identified as paramount actions in forest adaptation in the region. Adaptation to aggravating climate change may need to use artificial regeneration to enrich local gene pools and increase the drought tolerance of stands. Increasing risks from pests, pathogens and other disturbances are expected as a result of more frequent and severe droughts, underlining the need to put a stronger focus on risk management principles rather than on indicators of productivity in silviculture and forest planning. A consolidation of disturbance monitoring systems and a broader use of pest dynamics and hazard rating models are paramount tools to facilitate this adaptation process in forest management. The effectiveness of all the suggested measures needs to be controlled by efficient forest monitoring systems, the consolidation of which seems to be a timely task. Systematic and long-term implementation of the presented measures should increase forest stability and resilience, and further secure the sustainable provision of ecosystem services under climate change. [Excerpt: Conclusions] Forest responses to climate change are highly complex, and our understanding of potential impacts and sensitivities is still limited. Despite such limitations, it is possible and necessary to develop and implement climate change adaptation strategies already now (Spittlehouse & Stewart 2003). All forest management decisions are taken in face of uncertainty about the future, and delaying the implementation of adaptation measures in expectation of improved knowledge will likely lead to perpetual inaction. However, a thorough uncertainty assessment with regard to the expected climate change impacts can help to assess the need and likely success of adaptation measures. Both climatic uncertainty and societal uncertainty, for example that related to changing demands on ecosystems, need to be addressed (Seidl & Lexer 2013). Furthermore, an explicit consideration of the possible effects of adaptive management on a variety of locally important ecosystem services and an assessment of possible trade-offs with regard to their societal acceptance are needed. [\n] Currently, climate change adaptation is often not addressed in forest management deliberately, but rather manifests itself in response to impending threats, such as pest epidemics or windthrows. In facing such threats, finergrained and close-to-nature forest management systems are increasingly applied, while large-scale even-aged systems have been restricted to a narrow set of conditions in most of Central Europe. Accordingly, silvicultural approaches that promote a natural species composition, close-to-nature forest structure, and natural regeneration have gained traction in recent decades in all Central European countries. Such practices represent key starting points and opportunities for climate change adaptation. Yet, the profound changes expected for the future might require more systematic and targeted adaptation efforts going beyond what is currently implemented. [\n] This paper stressed key processes and actions which need to be addressed to facilitate effective forest adaptation. First, an understanding of inherent adaptation mechanisms acting at species and genetic levels, and a thorough consideration of such mechanisms in forest management are critical prerequisites for effective adaptation. Second, the role of risk assessment in forest management planning for changing environmental conditions is becoming increasingly important. Thereby, the historically strong focus of planning on timber production will need to be broadened in many areas, not only to accommodate the concept of multifunctional forestry but also to ensure acceptable levels of risk in ecosystem services provisioning. Third, the information on long-term forest responses to climatic and other stressors needs to be improved. However, the technical and organisational frameworks of the current forest monitoring systems in the region as well as the ensuing utilisation of the collected data are not yet geared towards supporting adaptive forest management. Hence, a consolidation of monitoring systems and a strengthening of information transfer to management decision makers are required. Fourth, despite an increasing availability of climate projections and regional vulnerability studies, the application of such information in forest management decision making is still limited. To promote the use of this information, actions on increasing of the awareness of managers and stakeholders need to be taken, and legislative support to adaptation processes need to be improved. Although forest adaptation is already included in many national forestry strategies, programmes and actions, these documents do not per se ensure an efficient and systematic implementation of such measures in forestry practice. Ultimately, successful adaptation decisions depend on skilled professionals, which is highlighting the importance of improved forest education. To conclude, we advocate a mainstreaming of climate change issues into all realms of forestry - from education to policy and from monitoring to management planning - in order to make the forests of Central Europe fit for a changing future.
@article{hlasnyClimateChangeIncreases2014,
  title = {Climate Change Increases the Drought Risk in {{Central European}} Forests: What Are the Options for Adaptation?},
  author = {Hlásny, Tomáš and Mátyás, Csaba and Seidl, Rupert and Kulla, Ladislav and Merganičová, Kataŕına and Trombik, Jiř́ı and Dobor, Laura and Barcza, Zoltán and Konôpka, Bohdan},
  date = {2014-01},
  journaltitle = {Forestry Journal},
  volume = {60},
  issn = {0323-1046},
  doi = {10.2478/forj-2014-0001},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.2478/forj-2014-0001},
  abstract = {The paper presents information on the projected drought exposure of Central Europe, describes the anticipated dynamics of the regional forests, and identifies measures facilitating the adaptation of forests to climate change-induced drought risk. On the basis of an ensemble of climate change scenarios we expect substantial drying in southern Slovakia and Hungary, while such trends were found to be less pronounced for the Czech Republic and Austria. In response to these climate trajectories, a change in species composition towards a higher share of drought tolerant species as well as the use of drought resistant provenances are identified as paramount actions in forest adaptation in the region. Adaptation to aggravating climate change may need to use artificial regeneration to enrich local gene pools and increase the drought tolerance of stands. Increasing risks from pests, pathogens and other disturbances are expected as a result of more frequent and severe droughts, underlining the need to put a stronger focus on risk management principles rather than on indicators of productivity in silviculture and forest planning. A consolidation of disturbance monitoring systems and a broader use of pest dynamics and hazard rating models are paramount tools to facilitate this adaptation process in forest management. The effectiveness of all the suggested measures needs to be controlled by efficient forest monitoring systems, the consolidation of which seems to be a timely task. Systematic and long-term implementation of the presented measures should increase forest stability and resilience, and further secure the sustainable provision of ecosystem services under climate change.

[Excerpt: Conclusions] Forest responses to climate change are highly complex, and our understanding of potential impacts and sensitivities is still limited. Despite such limitations, it is possible and necessary to develop and implement climate change adaptation strategies already now (Spittlehouse \& Stewart 2003). All forest management decisions are taken in face of uncertainty about the future, and delaying the implementation of adaptation measures in expectation of improved knowledge will likely lead to perpetual inaction. However, a thorough uncertainty assessment with regard to the expected climate change impacts can help to assess the need and likely success of adaptation measures. Both climatic uncertainty and societal uncertainty, for example that related to changing demands on ecosystems, need to be addressed (Seidl \& Lexer 2013). Furthermore, an explicit consideration of the possible effects of adaptive management on a variety of locally important ecosystem services and an assessment of possible trade-offs with regard to their societal acceptance are needed.

[\textbackslash n] Currently, climate change adaptation is often not addressed in forest management deliberately, but rather manifests itself in response to impending threats, such as pest epidemics or windthrows. In facing such threats, finergrained and close-to-nature forest management systems are increasingly applied, while large-scale even-aged systems have been restricted to a narrow set of conditions in most of Central Europe. Accordingly, silvicultural approaches that promote a natural species composition, close-to-nature forest structure, and natural regeneration have gained traction in recent decades in all Central European countries. Such practices represent key starting points and opportunities for climate change adaptation. Yet, the profound changes expected for the future might require more systematic and targeted adaptation efforts going beyond what is currently implemented.

[\textbackslash n] This paper stressed key processes and actions which need to be addressed to facilitate effective forest adaptation. First, an understanding of inherent adaptation mechanisms acting at species and genetic levels, and a thorough consideration of such mechanisms in forest management are critical prerequisites for effective adaptation. Second, the role of risk assessment in forest management planning for changing environmental conditions is becoming increasingly important. Thereby, the historically strong focus of planning on timber production will need to be broadened in many areas, not only to accommodate the concept of multifunctional forestry but also to ensure acceptable levels of risk in ecosystem services provisioning. Third, the information on long-term forest responses to climatic and other stressors needs to be improved. However, the technical and organisational frameworks of the current forest monitoring systems in the region as well as the ensuing utilisation of the collected data are not yet geared towards supporting adaptive forest management. Hence, a consolidation of monitoring systems and a strengthening of information transfer to management decision makers are required. Fourth, despite an increasing availability of climate projections and regional vulnerability studies, the application of such information in forest management decision making is still limited. To promote the use of this information, actions on increasing of the awareness of managers and stakeholders need to be taken, and legislative support to adaptation processes need to be improved. Although forest adaptation is already included in many national forestry strategies, programmes and actions, these documents do not per se ensure an efficient and systematic implementation of such measures in forestry practice. Ultimately, successful adaptation decisions depend on skilled professionals, which is highlighting the importance of improved forest education. To conclude, we advocate a mainstreaming of climate change issues into all realms of forestry - from education to policy and from monitoring to management planning - in order to make the forests of Central Europe fit for a changing future.},
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  number = {1}
}
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