Case studies

8 case studies (CSA) across European forests

The project will engage forest managers and other stakeholders in these 8 regions relevant for the EU forest ecosystems, identifying their requirements, collecting focused observations and validating model outputs for use in the OptFor-EU DSS. By combining innovative methods and models with forest managers and other stakeholders’ needs in each CSA, the OptFor-EU concept will be optimized to increase forest resilience and its decarbonisation potential in a changing climate.

The eight CSAs, located in Norway, Lithuania, UK, Germany, Austria, Romania, Spain and Italy, were selected based on the following criteria:

  • include all EFT (see here on page 28 the different European forest type classes), and relevant ecosystems in terms of decarbonisation potential;
  • include a high variety of FMP covering a full gradient of intensities;
  • include managed and unmanaged, old-growth and primary forests, to evaluate the forest management legacy on climate change mitigation and on providing key FES;
  • application of sustainable FMP which assure the providing and regulating of ecological, economic and socio-cultural FES;
  • application of forest certification system and socio-economic analyses to improve the forest-based mitigation strategies;
  • the existence of local studies about the carbon sequestration and providing with other key FES and data availability;
  • forest managers’, NGOs, and other stakeholders’ interest for climate mitigation strategies and NBS;
  • inclusion of forest affected by disturbances due to CC or with low resilience potential e.g., current habitat unsuitable for the actual forest type.

 

In each, the DSS will be co-developed, and its functionalities iteratively tested, at least for:

  • Quantifying forest-climate processes, interactions and their influences on FES, as well as their dynamics for a range of FMP, socio-economic and climate scenarios.
  • Exploring FES and habitat suitability under current and future climate for maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and soil conservation based on NBS to achieve climate neutrality and boosting circular forest economy.
  • Enhancing the sustainable FMP for forest resilience and optimising carbon uptake.
  • Applying a set of novel EFMI to quantify the multiple effects of NBS upon FES and their decarbonisation potential.
CSA3
CSA7
CSA8
CSA1
CSA5
CSA4
CSA6
CSA2

Browse by country:

Norway

Climate change impact on the forest decarbonisation and FES supply potential of forests in Vestfold and Telemark County (NO).

EFT: 1, 2, 13

FMP: National and regional forest management plans.

Goals:

  • Reduce tension between advocates of preservation and advocates of production.
  • Improve mitigation of extreme events related to climate change (wind throws, droughts, wildfires and insect attacks).
  • Develop new strategies for better forest management (species selection, planting, fertilisation).

The case study focuses on the Vestfold and Telemark region (S-E of Norway), with around 650,000 ha of productive forests, 66% of which are boreal forests, and yearly growth of 2.75 million m3. In 2019, 1.22 million m3 was logged and sold as different products.
This case study will identify the best forest management goals, in terms of preservation/production, for enhancing the decarbonisation potential of forested areas, considering the lifespan of woody products. A science-based selection system of planting strategies is also needed due to the effect of climate change on habitat suitability for traditional solutions.
Special attention will be paid to the optimal care strategies for young forests, to increase their growth and thereby decarbonisation.

Lithuania

Climate change impact on the decarbonisation and FES supply potential of forests within the Čepkeliai – Dzūkija National Park

EFT: 2, 11

FMP: Protected Area Network Natura 2000; Ethnographic importance; 28 managed nature reserves (8 landscape, 16 nature and 4 culture).

Goals:

  • Understanding and managing the role of fragmentation and clear cuts in forested areas in reducing decarbonisation potential and provision of other key FES (e.g. air quality regulation, water regulation, food provisioning, and recreation).
Located in the south of Lithuania, it is one of the 13 Protected Areas Network parks in Europe since 2011. The Park has a total area of 69,664 ha and includes one of the most pristine and undisturbed areas in Lithuania, the Danaiva Forest. Several areas of the park that belong to the Natura 2000 framework, are Special Protected Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, or Ramsar Sites. The old-growth forests cover 10% of the CSA area further, unmanaged forests account for 30% of the CSA area. An hemiboreal forest occupies most of the area of the Park, together with a complex hydrological network of bogs, swamps, mires, peatlands and lakes. Maintaining biodiversity and implementing close-to-nature management solutions are the main focus of this CSA.

UK

Climate change impact on UK forest decarbonisation and FES supply potential using Wytham Woods as a case study

EFT: 5, 12, 14

FMP: Site of Special Scientific Interest, living laboratory, managed, and conserved by the University of Oxford.

Goals:

  • Managing multifunctional uses (conservation, recreation, wood products, scientific research, citizen science), and the risks from tree pest species, including invasive non-native species.
Wytham Woods comprises around 400 ha of ancient semi-natural woodland near Oxford, UK. It has been owned and maintained by the University of Oxford since 1942 and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. The area is made up of four main habitats: ancient semi-natural woodland (dating back to the last Ice Age) and secondary woodland (17th Century); areas of modern plantation (from the 1950s and 1960s); and limestone grassland. The forest types within the wood can be classified as mesophytic deciduous forest, floodplain forest and plantation. It is a “living laboratory”, exceptionally rich in flora and fauna and one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world, accessible to the public and used for education, engagement and outreach.

Germany

Devising rules for budgeting carbon and timber earnings under consideration of other forest ecosystem services and climate change

EFT: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14

FMP: Protected areas, areas under the Habitats Directive of the EC (Council Directive 92/43/EEC), multi-purpose management.

Goals:

  • Quantifying different FES (mainly, carbon sequestration, nature conservation and timber production), including the effects of CC and management decisions.
  • Evaluating the carbon sequestration potential of different types of managed forests in order to assess and quantify local economic benefits, e.g. from selling carbon offset certificates vs selling timber.

The CSA ‘Lower Saxony’ is focusing on the Eastern Lowlands. The federal state of Lower Saxony has a forest area of approximately 1,200,000 hectares and forest cover of 25% of the state’s area. This expansive woodland is divided into three forest regions: ‘Western Lower Saxony Lowland’, ‘Eastern Lower Saxony Lowland’, and ‘Lower Saxony Mountains’. The Eastern lowlands lead with the highest forest cover, accounting for 41% of this region. In the mountains, the forest cover stands at 33%, while the Western lowlands exhibit a slightly lower proportion at 15%. The varied landscapes influence the dominant tree species, with beech and spruce prevailing in the mountainous areas, while pine takes precedence in the lowlands. Approximately 240,000 hectares (19%) of the forests have stringent protected area requirements. Additionally, nearly 500,000 hectares are designated as protected areas for recreational purposes, landscape preservation, and water conservation. An overarching objective for Lower Saxony is the transition towards a higher proportion of hardwood as opposed to coniferous wood.

Austria

Identifying the maximum decarbonisation potential of the Biosphere Reserve Vienna Woods without jeopardizing other demanded ecosystem services

EFT: 2, 4, 6, 7, 12, 14

FMP: Shelterwood system; unmanaged; clearcut, coppice.

Goals:

  • Managing multifunctional forestry (conservation, recreation, erosion control, cooling, biobased economy), invasion by non-native tree species, and pressure to reduce management costs.
Covering 105,000 ha of predominantly forest habitats, the Biosphere Reserve “Wiener Wald” was established in 2005; about 800,000 inhabitants. Ecologically, the forests are mainly beech and mesophytic broadleaved forests with some calcareous Pinus nigra forests on very shallow soils. The core area, comprising about 35,000 ha of forest, is managed by the Austrian Federal Forests (ÖBf AG). The unmanaged forests account for 40% of the CSA area, less than 1% being old-growth forests. Timber production, biomass for energy, game management (roe deer, wild boar), recreation and nature conservation are major management objectives.

Romania

An altitudinal assessment of climate change impact on Romanian forests decarbonisation and FES supply potential

EFT: 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 14

FMP: Primary and old-growth forests, Nature reserve, Close-to- nature, Combined objectives forestry, Even-aged forestry, Short rotation forestry.

Goals:

  • Managing FES for fragmented ownership in small forest areas (incl. and old-growth forest) where the principle of forest continuity cannot be achieved.
  • Considering laborious processes to obtain compensatory measures for economic loss (e.g. administration and legal agreements).
Southern part of RO; from 20 to 2,544 m a.s.l; about 1.27 million ha, of which 24% forest; EFT, from thermophile oak species in the lowland to the coniferous forests in the high mountains. One of the few European remnants of the primary and old-growth forests, respectively around 4,000 ha as well as about 2,858 km2 of protected areas. It includes a large altitudinal gradient, diverse climate conditions, EFT, managed and old-growth forests, and the interest of local stakeholders in NBS and management strategies to mitigate CC.

Spain

Climate change impact assessment on Extremadura pine forests decarbonisation potential. Specific Challenge addressed: wildfires, drought, erosion, rural depopulation

EFT: 10, 12, 14

FMP: Integration of forest management in the Natura 2000 Network; Synergies with Operational Groups and the Mosaic Project for land management in areas with low population density and high risk of forest fires.

Goals:

  • Improvement of forest planning and silviculture to obtain additional yields from resin harvesting, strengthen employment in rural areas, and contribute to the conservation of pine forests against forest fires, erosion, desertification and drought.
  • Restoration of hydrological basins.
  • Preservation of carbon sinks in pine forests.
Extremadura, 50,000 ha of forest area; old growth forests cover 10-20% and unmanaged forests 40%; stands dominated by Pinus pinaster exploited or susceptible for resin exploitation. Forest exploitation has recovered in the last 10 years, and presents multiple advantages, eg generation of new jobs in rural areas, generation of wealth that promotes the conservation, which makes them more resilient to forest fires, drought, erosion, and also maintains and enhance FES, such as the reduction of flooding downstream, the carbon sink, or the advancement of oaks and the increase of biodiversity. The forest conservation potential of the resinning is also fundamental for conservation in the Natura 2000 Network.

Italy

Sustainability of FES provided by the Model Forest of Florentine Mountains (Foresta Modello Montagna Fiorentina) under the climate change perspective and “climate neutrality” demands.

EFT: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14

FMP: Nature Reserve; Nature 2000 protected area shelter wood, coppice, group and single tree selection, afforested stands.

Goals:

  • Sustainability of a MMA in local level forest management, including value chains.
  • Balancing multipurpose needs and requests to/in forest: specialization (prevalence of one or few FES in different forest types) vs. sharing (most or all FES in all forest types).
  • Managing for resilience: mixed/diversified structure, mixed forests.
Florence province, Tuscany; 554,800 ha, 64,000 people; from 100 to 1600 m a.s.l., landscape characterized by both human and natural features modified over thousands of years with 70% of the territory covered by forests. It includes several natural protected areas under EU, National and Regional legislation. The unmanaged forests account for 24% of the CSA area, less than 1% being old-growth forests while managed forest are 75%. The economy is strongly connected to agriculture (wine, olive trees), but also includes forest products (timber, mushrooms, chestnuts), recreation, tourism, handicrafts, and biodiversity conservation. At the heart of the case study will be the assessment of carbon budgets and other FES to design appropriate management strategies for different forest types, considering climate change.

Additional case / uptake area (UpA)

Enhancing science-based knowledge on forests’, including old-growth forests, capacities to mitigate climate change

EFT: any EFT, from 1 to 14

FMP: National and regional forest management plans; Shelter wood system; unmanaged; clearcut, coppice; Nature 2000 protected area.

A hypothetical up-taking area anywhere in Europe, characterized by any EFT, FES, and FMP, which aims to address the call topic using the OptFor-EU DSS. The exemplified challenge is to increase the science-based knowledge for an efficient implementation of good FMPs that ensure the multiple functions of various EFTs and to increase forest carbon stocks in the short-, medium-, and long-term. Based on the outcomes of the 8 CSA and its open functionalities (eg. local data can be included, or customized applications are provided), the OptFor-EU DSS will provide to UpA forest managers science-based tools and recommendations for up-take in practice, including silvicultural measures for maximising the forest mitigation potential while ensuring the provision of other FES, biodiversity and soil conservation, under the current and future climate.