European Forests & Climate Change – Long-term impacts and wood supply

This project systematically investigates the long term impacts of climate change and forest management on European forests resources. The research is based on a combination of a unique data set of 190,000 forest inventory plots and a large scale, but detailed forest resource model for Europe (EFISCEN-space).

European forests are one of the few regions in the world where, through sustainable forest management, a large share of the global industrial roundwood is being produced. Even though they comprise only 4% of global forests, they produce 25% of global industrial roundwood.

Climate change impacts on forests are manifold, e.g. growth changes, species distribution shifts and altered distrubance regimes. The variety of climate change impacts across Europe requires regional forest management adaptations. Adaptive forest management provides sustainable solutions to cope with climate change effects but also alters the future forest structure and composition and thus wood production and other services provided by European forests.

This project investigates fundamental processes affecting forest regeneration as they are taking place now under current climate change in Europe. We will further compare different modelling approaches concerning their predictive power to implement an accurate regeneration module into the European Forest Information SCENario Model (EFISCEN-space).

The model uses national forest inventory data as a main source of input to describe the current structure and composition of European forest resources. Based on this information, the model can project forest resources for different climate change and management scenarios. These scenarios are mainly determined by management actions, but the model also takes into account changes in forest area, climate change related growth changes.

EFISCEN-space provides high resolution information on forest biomass, wood mobilization, forest carbon and includes indicators related to forest ecosystem services (carbon sequestration, biodiversity, recreation, and disturbances such as wind and fire risk), enabling the assessment of impacts of different policy and sustainable forest management strategies at the national and European level.