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Climate change – the future is now: Communicating the need for adaptive management to stakeholders


One of the challenges that scientists and stakeholders share is how to communicate climate change issues. The fact that the effects of climate change can already be seen in European forests is not always getting through to forest managers and decision makers. This was one of the topics discussed in a recent meeting where scientists, decision makers and stakeholders shared their ideas and experiences on adaptive management strategies.

The FP7 project “Models for Adaptive forest Management” (MOTIVE) investigates adaptive management strategies that address climate and land use change. One of the project’s successful ways of reaching out to the stakeholders has been an advisory board that has brought together decision makers, stakeholders and scientists. “This interaction has been an extremely useful exercise for the scientific research of MOTIVE and helpful to get a better insight into the knowledge and research requirements of forest decision makers and practitioners”, says the project co-ordinator Prof. Dr. Marc Hanewinkel from the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

During the group’s final meeting in November, the stakeholders raised the issues of difficulty in communicating climate change issues to the relevant people. The message that the effects of climate change can already be seen in European forests is not getting through to forest managers and decision makers. Clear examples of observed climate change effects from scientists would be very useful in communicating this message. They also mentioned that they need to have a better understanding of climate change risks, the urgency of taking adaptive action and the cost of failing to do so.

In addition to the discussions, the group visited the Prades forest in Catalonia, located at the southern edge of Scots pine species distribution range where the effects of a changing climate over the last twenty years can be clearly seen. The trend in increasing length of drought periods is affecting a forest which has always been under water stress. Recent dry conditions are exceeding the capacity for drought tolerance in Scots pine and many trees are dying. Dr. Carlos Gracia from the University of Barcelona predicts that Scots pine could become extinct in the Mediterranean zone. In turn, this will affect other species such as the Great Spotted Woodpecker, which depend on Scots pine for their survival. Many forest stands where Scots pine has been the most common species the more drought-resistant holm oak is becoming more predominant. Increasing water stress is also increasing forest-fire risk in the Prades forest.

Contact: Marcus Lindner,
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