Forests of Central and Eastern Europe represent an important natural resource. Their importance will likely increase in the near future. This is not just because of increasing demand for wood (for energy production, construction, bioplastics, etc.), but also due to increasing societal awareness about the ecosystem services provided by forests. However, ecosystem services are now threatened by climate change. Current forest management will need to be adapted to climate change, to reduce its negative impacts, such as drought, increased water run-off causing flooding and soil erosion, and also to increase the resilience of forests to climate change in the long term.
The overall goal of the CLIMAFORCEELIFE project is to improve management of forests in Central and Eastern Europe by fostering the transition to climate-smart forestry for the benefit of people and nature.
Specific project objectives include: Review (proofing) of selected forest management models currently used in Central and Eastern European from the viewpoint of climate change; Demonstrate application of the climate-smart forestry measures in 3 countries in Central and Eastern Europe (Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary) and test their economic feasibility and environmental impact comparing to the conventional forestry methods; Foster inclusion of climate-smart forestry measures into relevant planning documents related to forest management and/or nature conservation on local to national level (such as forest management plans, nature management plans) as well as into programming documents for EU Regional Funds; Increase awareness of climate-smart forestry methods among professional foresters and other relevant professional groups (researchers, conservationists) in Central and Eastern Europe; Transfer experience from project demonstration sites to and replicate climate-smart forestry methods in other areas in Central and Eastern Europe (including neighbouring countries such as Ukraine); and Gain public support for climate-smart forestry by increasing awareness about forests and climate change.
The project is fully in line with the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, and also national climate adaptation policies. It contributes to EU policy aiming to increase forest resilience to climate change, as project measures may significantly decrease pest outbreaks, fire risk, and mitigate the effects of prolonged drought. In addition, some sites are located in Natura 2000 network sites, so project measures may benefit the conservation status of habitats and species protected under the Birds and Habitats directives.
Expected results: Project plans applied and demonstrated for climate-smart forestry measures in Slovakia and Bulgaria on 1 793 ha; Small-scale shelter wood cutting and selective cutting in pine forests on sand dunes instead of clear-cutting tested on 48 ha. In addition, pre-commercial thinning in pine sand dune forests on 450 ha and clearings on 240 ha to increase resilience of forest stands and support natural regeneration. Gradual reconstruction of spruce monocultures into more stabile and diverse forests implemented on a total area of 55 ha; In Bulgaria, 1 000 ha of coniferous plantation of Pinus sylvestris and Pinus nigra thinned with non-traditional methods and modern technology to avoid their complete deterioration; 10 ha of seed production gardens and experimental plantations of drought resistant species (e.g. Quercus pubescens, Quercus coccifera, Pinus brutia, etc.) created to increase theresilience of the forests in the areas of the SWSFE (South-western Bulgaria) most vulnerable to climate change; Handbook on climate-smart forestry measures relevant for Central and Eastern Europe; Management plans and programming documents in project countries revised to include climate-smart forestry measures; Three replication cases on at least 200 ha assisted; Remote sensing system for the observation of forest health established on the area managed by SWSFE partner; Water retention measures to improve forest resilience applied on 140 ha in the forests of atn forest enterprise (part of FSR partner); Seven study tours, three technical workshops, two conferences and about 20 events for private owners in Hungary organised for forestry professionals from CEE region; and 10 trips for public and 10 media events will be organised, 50 papers published and two project videos elaborated.