Adaptive forest management

A recent study modelling German forests recommends adaptive management – using more drought-resistant tree species – to prevent the die-off that climate change might otherwise lead to.

make forests more resilient to climate change. An EU study assessed predicted effects of different strategies for managing forests and climate change. Timber production and forest diversity would both be seriously negatively impacted by predicted climate change. Previous forest management strategies have led to the dominance of a drought-intolerant species of tree, the Norwegian spruce. If this is replaced, particularly by European beech and Douglas fir, timber production should recover – particularly under a regime where Douglas fir is heavily favoured. Biodiversity will, of course, be an issue with promoting the dominance of any particular species, with bird species and vegetation being special concerns. Plant diseases are also a serious concern where one species dominates a system.

While there are many uncertainties, these kind of adaptive management techniques would take up to 120 years to make a significant impact on forest makeup, so strategies need to be in place well in advance.