A new framework for prognosing forest resources under intensified disturbance impacts

A new framework for prognosing forest resources under intensified disturbance impacts

Due to the large-scale bark beetle outbreak triggered by hot and dry weather, the Czech Republic has become Europe's disturbance epicenter. The researchers of the EVA4.0 project in cooperation with other colleagues from Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague and the Global Change Research Institute at Czech Academy of Sciences  successfully described this development, including social and ecological impacts, in the study from 2021. The study has received considerable attention (for example, 80+ citation at WoS), and the conclusions have been presented at different international fora. Besides, the study highlighted future risks for Central European forests from interacting climatic and biotic effects, yet without any quantification.

In the follow-up study the team of professor Hlásny developed a simulation framework for prognosing forests resources in the Czech Republic by considering different management scenarios and disturbance intensities. The framework simulates forest development at the level of 206 administrative units of the country, starting from the real forest conditions as defined by the national forestry statistics. Forest development, including growth, mortality, and regeneration, is simulated with an annual step. To implement the effect of disturbances, professor Hlásny and his colleagues investigated forest damage records from 2002-2017 from remote sensing and forestry statistics and calculated so-called mortality probabilities – a probability was determined for each main tree species of being killed at a specific age. Interestingly, e.g. the probability of Norway spruce being killed at age 100 was ca 75%. The results suggested the growing stock in the country can be reduced by more than 20 % by 2050 if management and disturbance risk remains at the current level. However, this estimate is conservative as disturbance intensity is expected to increase due to climate change. 

The developed simulation framework can accommodate diverse forestry data, reproduce real forest dynamics, and generate outputs that correspond with the national forestry statistics. The flexible adoption of different mortality and management regimes makes it a versatile tool for supporting management decisions and policies. The presented simulations highlighted the negative prospects of the regional forests and the need for a profound transformation of management practices and the regional forest-based sector.

For more information about this interesting research follow the lin of the original article.

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