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
Careful and data-driven forest management is an effective way to prevent wildfires, improve soil water recharge and reduce drought risk.
In this infographic you can see how the Forest Management approach developed in our project works.
The main tool is a Decision Support System (DSS tool) which allows forest managers to select their objectives and choose the optimum approach to reach them.
When it comes to thinning the wood, the DSS tool can provide forest managers with precise information on how much do you have to cut the trees, when, where and which trees should be cut. This information is optimized according to the objectives selected in the first place.
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.
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).
A replication strategy will be developed for transferring this approach, so it can be applied elsewhere across Europe.
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.
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.
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.
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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