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Simulation modelling to better anticipate risks and foster resilience in forest ecosystem management

Climate change and the intensification and severity of floods, fires, disease and other events in recent decades are having detrimental effects on forest ecosystems. An EU initiative introduced a simulation framework to respond to such forest disruptions.
Simulation modelling to better anticipate risks and foster resilience in forest ecosystem management
Knowledge about disturbance regimes that cause pronounced changes in forest ecosystems over a period of time remains limited. This lack of knowledge is evident in existing adaptation strategies and forest models that simulate climate change impacts.

The EU-funded SAGE (Simulating adaptation of forest management to changing climate and disturbance regimes) project adapted sustainable forest management to changing climate and disturbance regimes.

Project partners studied disturbance regimes and management responses based on empirical data. They implemented such interactions into a novel forest landscape simulator that enables scenario analyses under expected future climate conditions.

Findings show that forest disturbances from wind, bark beetles and wildfire have approximately tripled in Europe during the period 1970-2010. Projections from different management strategies and climate scenarios suggest a further increase until 2030, and considerable negative impacts on forest carbon storage.

At local level, the SAGE team found that recent unprecedented beetle outbreaks in central Europe were mostly driven by regional-scale drivers and were temporally synchronised by summer droughts. In addition, disturbance interactions have contributed significantly to recent extensive disturbance events in central Europe, calling further attention to the future climate sensitivity of the region’s disturbance regime.

The changes in disturbance regimes have a largely negative impact on ecosystem services. This reduces provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services provided to humans by forest ecosystems. Questionnaires revealed that forest managers are particularly sensitive to such changes, with most actively adapting their management to respond to them.

Conversely, disturbances boost species diversity in forests. Central Europe’s biodiversity will generally benefit from such changes. As such, researchers identified increased structural and compositional diversity as a key mechanism of resilience in forest ecosystems.

SAGE contributed to the causes and consequences of changing disturbance regimes, and the ability to simulate disturbance interactions and management responses. This will help to develop local, place-based adaptation strategies for sustainable forest management under changing climate and disturbance regimes.

Related information

Subjects

Life Sciences

Keywords

Forest ecosystem, disturbance regimes, adaptation strategies, SAGE, forest management
Record Number: 198933 / Last updated on: 2017-06-19
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