The report (virgin forests at the heart of Europe) provides an overview of the distribution and situation of the last remaining large-scale virgin forests in Central Europe, with a particular focus on Romania. Most people usually associate images of destruction of forests with tropical rain forests. But this also takes place right here on our doorsteps. We in Europe share a global responsibility to protect our unique, irreplaceable natural heritage. These Carpathian forests are some of the last remaining wildernesses, and a precious archive of biodiversity, history, of impressive images and beauty. As consumers, processors and sellers of timber and wood-based products we all have responsibility to stop the pressures placed on these forests, and have the duty to protect this natural heritage for future generations.
Primary forests are critical for forest biodiversity and provide key ecosystem services. In Europe, these forests are particularly scarce and it is unclear whether they are sufficiently protected. Here we aim to: (a) understand whether extant primary forests are representative of the range of naturally occurring forest types, (b) identify forest types which host enough primary forest under strict protection to meet conservation targets and (c) highlight areas where restoration is needed and feasible.
We combined a unique geodatabase of primary forests with maps of forest cover, potential natural vegetation, biogeographic regions and protected areas to quantify the proportion of extant primary forest across Europe's forest types and to identify gaps in protection. Using spatial predictions of primary forest locations to account for underreporting of primary forests, we then highlighted areas where restoration could complement protection.
We found a substantial bias in primary forest distribution across forest types. Of the 54 forest types we assessed, six had no primary forest at all, and in two‐thirds of forest types, less than 1% of forest was primary. Even if generally protected, only ten forest types had more than half of their primary forests strictly protected. Protecting all documented primary forests requires expanding the protected area networks by 1,132 km2 (19,194 km2 when including also predicted primary forests). Encouragingly, large areas of non‐primary forest existed inside protected areas for most types, thus presenting restoration opportunities.
Europe's primary forests are in a perilous state, as also acknowledged by EU's “Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.” Yet, there are considerable opportunities for ensuring better protection and restoring primary forest structure, composition and functioning, at least partially. We advocate integrated policy reforms that explicitly account for the irreplaceable nature of primary forests and ramp up protection and restoration efforts alike.
European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a drought-sensitive species that likely will retreat from its xeric distribution edges in the course of climate warming. Physiological measurements indicate that the species may not only be sensitive to soil water deficits, but also to high temperatures and elevated atmospheric vapor pressure deficits (vpd). Through microclimatological measurements in the stand interior across near-natural beech forest-oak forest ecotones, we searched for microclimatic tipping points in the contact zone with the aim to define the thermic and hydrometeorological limits of beech more precisely. In three transects in the foothills of the Romanian western Carpathians, we measured in midsummer 2019 air temperature, relative air humidity, and vpd at 2 m height in the stand interior across the ecotone from pure oak to pure beech forests, and compared the readings to the microclimate in forest gaps. Mean daytime temperature (T) and vpd were by 2 K and 2 hPa, respectively, higher in the oak forests than the beech forests; the extremes differed even more. Especially in the second half of the day, the oak forests heated up and were more xeric than the beech forests. Part of the differences is explained by the elevation difference between oak and beech forests (200-300 m), but species differences in canopy structure, leaf area, and canopy transmissivity enhance the microclimatic contrast. Our T and vpd data point to thresholds at about 30 • C and 25 hPa as maxima tolerated by beech in the lowermost shade canopy for extended periods. In conclusion, the rather sharp stand microclimatic gradient demonstrated here for the xeric distribution limit of beech may well be the decisive factor that hinders the spread of beech into the warmer oak forests.
The opinion piece “The climate change mitigation effect of bioenergy from sustainably managed forests in Central Europe” by Schulze et al (GCB Bioenergy 2020;12:186–197) argues against putting forests into conservation, concluding that that managed forests can help mitigate climate change more effectively than unmanaged forests mainly due to the potential to use end of life wood products as fuel. This is alleged to produce “emission savings” by substituting diesel or other energy use. However, we question some of the assumptions upon which this conclusion is based.
The carbon stock in Europe's forests is decreasing and the importance of protecting ‘unmanaged’ forests must be recognised in reversing this process. In order to keep carbon out of the atmosphere and to meet the Paris Agreement goals, the remaining primary forests must be protected and secondary forests should be allowed to continue growing to preserve existing carbon stocks and accumulate additional stocks. Scientific evidence suggests that ‘unmanaged’ forests have higher total biomass carbon stock than secondary forests being actively managed for commodity production or recently abandoned. image
Beech forests were first protected under the World Heritage Convention in 2007 as the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians (Slovakia and Ukraine). After two latter extensions in 2011 and 2017, the Natural World Heritage site is currently named the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine) and consists of 78 component parts in 12 European countries. It aims to ensure the preservation of beech gene pool, ecosystem and species diversity of beech forests, their future renewal and expansion, in regard to the development and use pressures they encounter and the biodiversity they support. Additionally, this World Heritage site aims to depict the beech expansion after the last Ice Age, spreading over a large percent of the continent to form one of the most significant forest ecosystems in Europe. The third extension nomination has been developed in 2020 and proposes the inscription of additional 30 component parts, a considerable step towards the complete overall picture of post-glacial beech re-colonization process and beech ecosystem diversity across Europe. With this extension 8 additional European countries would join this property, including the Republic of Serbia. The extended property would consist of over 100 component parts in 20 European countries, a pan-European network of protected areas with joint protection and management goals to represent a platform for policy making and knowledge exchange. This paper presents the genesis of this extremely complex World Heritage property and the work done to expand it over the protected beech forests in Serbia, in preparation of the first Natural World Heritage nomination for the Republic of Serbia.
This paper is a literature review, aiming to present a short history of forest management planning (FMP) in Romania. The first part is focused on the development of FMP worldwide. The second part describes the occurrence of FMP in Romania, being divided into four different phases, according to the main historical changes that influenced the evolution of forestry and FMP: before 1918, 1918-1947, 1947-1989 and after 1989. Before 1918, the Romanian FMP system was mainly based on elements from French and German forestry. After the Great Union of 1918, the first concerns arose for the creation of a unitary FMP system but, with some adaptation to local conditions, it was mainly based on the FMP system applied before 1918. Only 39% of Romanian forests were managed based on a forest management plan in 1947. The apogee of FMP development in Romania occurred between 1947 and 1989: after forest nationalization in 1948, a huge effort was allocated for the FMP of all Romanian forests, according to a new and unitary national FMP system. Thus, till 1956, there were produced forest management plans for all Romanian forests. This system was periodically updated and improved and a lot of research was performed in this field between 1947 and 1989. After 1989, the FMP system was adapted according to the ownership changes that occurred in the new political context. Other main changes refer to the complete computerized processing of all data collected within the FMP activity and, mainly after 2010, the use of GIS for producing the maps attached to each forest management plan. Keywords: history of forest management planning, Romanian forest management planning, methods of forest management planning, Romanian forestry. Authors. Gabriel Duduman (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ștefan cel Mare
We compare sustainably managed with unmanaged forests in terms of their contribution to climate change mitigation based on published data. For sustainably managed forests, accounting of carbon (C) storage based on ecosystem biomass and products as required by UNFCCC is not sufficient to quantify their contribution to climate change mitigation. The ultimate value of biomass is its use for biomaterials and bioenergy. Taking Germany as example, we show that the average removals of wood from managed forests are higher than stated by official reports, ranging between 56 and 86 Mill. m3 ha‐1 y‐1 due to the unrecorded harvest of firewood. We find that total removals can substitute of 0.87 m3 ha‐1 y‐1 of diesel, or 7.4 MWh/ha y‐1, taking into account the unrecorded firewood, the use of fuel for harvesting and processing, and the efficiency of energy conversion. Resultantly, energy substitution ranges between 1.9 and 2.2 t CO2equiv. ha‐1 y‐1 depending on the type of fossil fuel production. Including bioenergy and carbon storage, the total mitigation effect of managed forest ranges between 3.2 and 3.5 tCO2 equiv. ha‐1 y‐1. This is more than previously reported because of the full accounting of bioenergy. Unmanaged nature conservation forests contribute via C storage only about 0.37 t CO2 equiv. ha‐1 y‐1 to climate change mitigation. There is no fossil fuel substitution. Therefore, taking forests out of management reduces the climate mitigation benefits substantially. There should be a mitigation‐cost for taking forest out of management in Central Europe. Since the energy sector is rewarded for the climate benefits of bioenergy, and not the forest sector, we propose that a CO2 tax is used to award the contribution of forest management to fossil fuel substitution and climate change mitigation. This would stimulate the production of wood for products and energy substitution.
North-western Europe has on various counts a very heterogeneous character. Crystalline and metamorphic bedrocks of various ages and Tertiary and Quaternary deposits define its geology and geomorphological features. The area belongs to several climatic zones and parts of it went through quite different processes during their Quaternary development. All these aspects were of essential importance for forests—their origin, development, species composition, structural features, and the character of their environments. During the postglacial period favourable climatic conditions enabled trees to migrate from the refuges in the south and south-east of Europe to the north and north-west. With the exception of extreme conditions all the dry land of north-western Europe was covered with forests whose species composition varied, depending on local conditions of the physical environment. Natural woods and forests, both closed and open and continuously changing in time, contributed greatly to natural landscape diversity. Since the Neolithic and especially in the Middle Ages, human influence becomes the crucial factor of forest development, the impact being superimposed on natural conditions and evolutionary processes. Man not only drastically reduced the forested area in Europe, but the use of forests over several millennia also strongly changed the conditions for the functioning of forests as natural ecosystems. As a result, the man-made forests of today often have little in common with natural forest communities, which once covered the European continent. Nevertheless, even these man-made forests have important functions: they greatly influence the local climate and the hydrological regime of the landscape; they protect steep slopes against erosion and are an important source of biodiversity; and they contribute strongly to the variety of landscape structure as well as to the protection of the environment. This chapter provides a general survey of the phytogeographical, palaeoecological, and environmental aspects of forests in north-western Europe. For a proper insight the following components are taken into consideration: • the abiotic component (the physical environment: topography, climate); • the phytogeographical component (horizontal distribution and altitudinal zonation); • the historical component (postglacial development, early impact of humans on forests); • the ecological component (distribution and ecological properties of trees, main forest types); • the forest use component (organized forestry and its development and the present situation of forests and forestry.