Coupling water, fire and climate resilience with biomass production from forestry to adapt watersheds to climate change

LIFE RESILIENT FORESTS is a project co-funded by the European Union’s LIFE+ Programme to promote a forest management approach at the watershed scale that improves forests resilience to wildfires, water scarcity, environmental degradation and other effects induced by climate change

Climate change and forest ecosystems

The effects of climate change and climate variability on forest ecosystems are evident around the world and impacts are unavoidable, at least in the short and medium term. Climate change affects forest ecosystems negatively by making forests less resilient to disturbances, such as the reduction of plant growth, the frequency and the intensity of pest and disease outbreaks, wildfires and wind storms.

The effects on European forests ecosystems

Between 1950 and 2000 in Europe an average of 35 million m3 wood was damaged annually by disturbances such as storms (53%) and wildfires (16%). The years 2003 and 2007 demonstrated that forest fires can be devastating when large scale droughts prevail. Climate change will increase the number and severity of droughts in many parts of Europe and will affect the availability of water resources. During the last 30 years, the total EU area affected by water scarcity and droughts doubled from 6 to 13%, economic losses of this increase were estimated at 100 billion Euro.

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Activities

  Decision Support System

LIFE Resilient Forest will develop a system to introduce climate change adaptation strategies in forest management across Europe. This tool will be based on a successful approach already adopted by the municipality of Serra (Valencia, Spain).

  Replication

A replication strategy will be developed for transferring this approach, so it can be applied elsewhere across Europe.

  Networking

Networking activities will be developed so the project can take advantage of other successful initiatives related to forest management and climate change, and to facilitate the transfer of information on forest management and climate change initiatives.

  Demonstration

The support system will be adapted to different conditions and demonstrated at three locations in Germany, Portugal and Spain, both at sub-catchment and at catchment scale.

  Monitoring

The project will conduct a complete monitoring of the impacts, including a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the system, to prove the environmental soundness of the approach and its socioeconomic effects in rural areas.

  Dissemination

LIFE RESILIENT FORESTS will carry out a wide dissemination action to reach out both public and private stakeholders and to achieve a positive impact on regulations and policies for forest management across Europe.

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