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Adaption strategies in forestry under global climate change impact

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ASFORCLIC (Adaption strategies in forestry under global climate change impact)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-03-31

The ASFORCLIC is designed to significantly increase the research excellence of the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology (FFWT) at Mendel University in Brno (MENDELU) and establish it as a European research leader, trendsetter, and scientific hub in the area of research focused on climate and global change impacts on Forestry and Wood Applications.
The ASFORCLIC project aims at increased scientific visibility and opens new networking opportunities via selected steps and dedicated training. Furthermore, we work on increasing the competitiveness of FFWT in national, EU and international research grant competitions. ASFORLIC is also set to improve FFWT researchers' staff profiles, support research through mentees–mentor collaboration, and create a dialogue with stakeholders to translate the research findings to industrial cooperation. The planned widening actions and the overall project methodology include partner short stays/expert lectures, workshops/training/seminars, summer schools, training at advanced partners and short-term research visits. This project consortium is part of a long-term developed research and education network in Europe.
In ASFORCLIC, FFWT MENDELU is supported by seven advanced partners from four additional EU countries. The consortium is forming a forestry site- and wood-industry catena with regional climate and forest site conditions and local tree and wood species with unique material properties and technical process or application technics for individual markets.
Based on the historical and current conditions of the central European forestry sector, it is necessary to transform and stabilise forests via modifying forest structure, especially under changing environmental factors affecting dominantly health status and quantity and quality of wood and other bio-based materials. Furthermore, due to global trade and climate change, emerging pests and pathogens are an increasing threat to ecosystems, including temperate and boreal forests.
We can expect the change of forests due to climate change, resulting in different and new shaped or managed forest structures (Forest of the Future) and raw materials, which must be processed and adapted for later applications as products. It will change our forests and subsequently lead to the Forest of Future and the entire circular economy approach and bio-based economy. Politics and decision-makers must take this into account in their future strategies. Parallel changes in the job structure, the acceptance of forests and landscape for recreation, natural protection, freshwater delivery, quality and clean air and human well-being or health are essential responses. Biodiversity, not only of trees but also vegetation and wildlife, including insects and fungi as saprophytes or parasites in normal bio-cycling or calamity, will be changed.
The changed disposal of bio-based materials will succeed following these changed production conditions in forests, requiring changes in the whole value chain, new adaptations of wood processing and application steps, including the entire circular economy approach.
ASFORCLIC opens doors for future collaborations via creating strong links between individual researchers and involved institutions. We focused during RP1 on networking activities, linking institutions, joint discussions, literature and other online seminars, supporting Early-Stage and Young researchers, and job shadowing. After establishing the project's administrative structure in the Launch- and Kick-off meetings, the work focused on constituting 17 Mentor-Mentee pairs in all three virtual working groups (WGs), strengthening and deepening the skills and expertise MENDELU's Early Stage and Young Researchers by advanced partners experts. With the help of a forestry TRIPLET approach, comparing different tree species and mixtures in several silvicultural management intensities or decay experiments of organic materials in the soil, the Early Stage and Young Researchers were guided into innovative and up-to-date research approaches and educational tasks. This approach, using a set of –so far- lesser-used tree and wood species, also includes the knowledge-based teaching of technics in property characterisation or technical application of the produced bio-based materials. ASFORCLIC also has a broader impact on the internal culture of the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology (FFWT) at Mendel University in Brno (MENDELU).
We set four significant groups of impact for ASFORCLIC.

*Increased research excellence of the coordinating institution in the field of research
Sharing these experiences and harmonising data collection can provide adequate datasets and databases to evolve Trans Central-European networks through the TRIPLETS scheme. Two tree species A and B, studied in pure vs mixed stands (A-AB-B), were widened in ASFORCLIC to a broader research concept. Instead of focusing on two species in even-aged stands, the project aims to set up an "empirical ASFORCLIC data platform" that contains three contrasting stand types:
(A) even-aged nonspecific,
(B) even-aged two-species, and
(C) uneven-aged multispecies stands. The critical hypothesis behind the data collection is that tree species mixing and managing uneven-aged stands improve the provisioning of multiple ecosystem functions and services along with a wide range of growing conditions.
The target parameters embrace quantitative measures for climate smartness, long-term productivity, wood quality, protective functions, soil characteristics, water provision and stability.
Each participating country was asked to contribute two sites of each stand type A-B-C - preferably from existing long-term experiments alternatively from temporary research plots where past growing conditions are reconstructed from increment cores. A protocol defines guidelines for stand selection criteria, plot establishment, tree inventory, soil sampling, and facultative support by terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). Reference document: Pretzsch, Uhl, Pokorný, Černý, Kučera, Steckel (2021). Concept ASFORCLIC empirical study TUM and others. Working document, version 10/2021"

*Enhancing the reputation, attractiveness and networking channels of the coordinating institution
Daily work within the consortium and gaining closer knowledge of the advanced partners about MENDELU team publications, available equipment and data lead to the increased attractiveness in collaboration and invitation to join the project with the leading researchers.

*Improved capability to compete successfully for competitive research funding
Provided training during day-to-day communication with the leading counterparts improves the skills of the support staff.

*Benefits and impacts related to early-stage researchers
The project implementation creates new knowledge, and the ESRs and young researchers' capacities enhance their scientific performance. The long-term effect is in the improvement of competencies of ESRs and more attractive PhD programmes at the FFWT. We also provide soft skills to the PhD students to help them finish their studies successfully. They also apply new skills in their practice and communication with the public, colleagues from European and national partner institutions and industrial stakeholders.
WP4 Virtual job shadowing
WP3 Summer school
WP2 Online presentation of the WG2