Growth trends: A role model for EFI research

In 1993, the Growth Trends of European Forests project started, as a follow-up to the first EFI report on Forest Resources in Europe. The project was coordinated by Heinrich Spiecker from the University of Freiburg. It involved 44 growth and yield scientists from 12 European countries, who provided their time and effort as a large inkind contribution to EFI.

Its main objective was to give a retrospective view of forest growth over recent decades, covering different European sites in order to find out whether site productivity had changed. While several growth reports had been published at local, regional and national levels, there had never been a joint international effort to identify and quantify growth trends, or to develop scenarios of future forest growth.

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Growth trends project brainstorming session, August 1993

The final report, Growth Trends in European Forest – Studies from 12 European Countries, was presented to the public in Freiburg, Germany, in September 1996. It showed that many forests in Europe had been growing faster than in previous decades. The study did not specifically investigate the causes, but the authors identified land use history, forest management, natural disturbances, climate, including nitrogen deposition and increased CO2 content of the atmosphere, as possible factors.

There was large media interest in the study, and its results are still being used, many years later. 

“The growth trends study became a model concept for EFI research: pooling national experts and data together in a harmonised way to create results that go far beyond what is possible at national level.”
Risto Päivinen