Author(s): Spiecker H
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Abstract In Europe temperate forests play a prominent role in timber production, nature protection, water conservation, erosion control and recreation. For centuries temperate forests in Europe have been affected by forest devastation and soil degradation. Applying great efforts to eliminate the severe wood shortage of those days, countermeasures were taken during the last 150 years by regenerating and tending highly productive forests. High growth rates and an increasing growing stock of these forests indicate that formerly stated goals have been successfully achieved. Coniferous species were often favoured because they were easy to establish and manage, and gave reason for high volume growth expectations. Today coniferous forests expand far beyond the limits of their natural ranges. These changes have been accompanied by a loss of biodiversity, a shift to nonsite adapted tree species and reduce the resistance against storms, snow, ice, droughts, insects and fungi. Some of these hazards were further intensified by the increasing average stand age, as well as in some areas by severe air pollution. Climatic fluctuations, especially changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme warm and dry climatic conditions and of heavy storms, had considerable impact on forest ecosystems. The changing demands of today require a widened scope of forest management. Society is asking for sustainable forestry emphasizing biodiversity and naturalistic forest management. It is of great economic and ecological relevance to know on which sites today's forests are most susceptible to climatic and other environmental changes and hazards. In those areas adjustments of management through a conversion the prevailing forests towards more site adapted mixed forests needs to be considered with priority. The high diversity in site conditions, ownership, economic and socio-cultural conditions require strategies adapted to the local and regional needs. Higher resistance of forests will increase economic and social benefits of forests and reduce the risks by maintaining sustainable forestry.
This article was published in J Environ Manage
and referenced in Forest Research: Open Access