I’m presenting FORESTS & CO’s results on primary forests, including challenges and trade-offs when it comes to carbon management at the UNFCCC-COP24 Climate conference in Katowice. I hope to see you there!
Credits: S. Burrascano, F.M. Sabatini, Pixabay.com
Forests host a huge range of animals and plants, and provide a wealth of services to us, including the provision of timber and other forest products (mushrooms!), protection from landslides and avalanches in mountain areas, clean water and clean air. In addition, forests capture and store large amounts of carbon, mostly in wood and soils, thus contributing to mitigating climate change. When managing forests, we should keep all these services in mind, and since not all of them can be maximised at the same time, make choices and set priorities. In our paper ‘Trade‐offs between carbon stocks and biodiversity in European temperate forests’, recently published in Global Change Biology, we focus on one of the possible trade-offs. Can we manage forests to both support biodiversity and maximize the amount of carbon they store? In short, can we fill two needs with one deed?
Here’s a piece of my former colleague Alfredo Romero-Muñoz on his work on the jaguars. Happy to host it also here.
Original article: https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12843
I was trapped. Or so I thought.
The jaguar came towards me on the dirt road, calmly but attentively in the dusky light, her nearly full grown cub behind her. Nervous and with only a torch as defence, I held the light high above my head as she approached, trying to look taller. But she was merely curious; and, after 20 minutes, they left. I walked home in the thickening darkness, amazed at having come so close to South America’s top predator. We later named this mother jaguar ‘Kaayana’, because she lives inside Kaa-Iya National Park in the Bolivian Chaco. My fascination with jaguars has only grown since then, but the chances of encountering this incredible animal in the wild have shrunk even since…
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When thinking of untouched forests, many of us immediately go with our thoughts to the Sequoia groves in California, the magnificent mountain ash forests in Tasmania or to the endless stretches of trees in the Amazon. Well, you will be surprised then to know that Europe still hosts some hidden treasures, patches of forest where signs of human impacts are minimal and where today’s big veteran trees were young saplings at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Well, the good news is that we have finally mapped these forests across the entire Europe and have just published the results in the scientific journal Diversity and Distribution.
Picture credits: Fraktos forest – Rodopi Mountain Range National Park – Greece
Photo: F.M. Sabatini
Although my heart beats for temperate forests, collaborating with Asunción Semper-Pascual took me for once (alas, only figuratively) to the tropical dry forests of the Argentinian Chaco, to do research on a very important questions:
Given the high rate of deforestation currently observed in the Chaco, what proportion of the mammal and bird diversity we currently observe in the landscape is deemed to go extinct in the near-future? In other words, is there an Extinction debt? And can we map it to highlight areas where a high extinction rate is expected, so to priotize areas in urgent need of restoration?
In the paper just published on the Journal of Applied Ecology, we showed we can.
The European Union is about to release a revised version of the Directive on renewable energy. The directive aims at doubling the current production of renewable energy by 2030, i.e. the provision of solar, wind, hydroelectric and bioenergy energy. Renewable is ‘good’, so it seems we are undertaking a new step towards sustainability and a green future- All really noble, but are we sure we are doing the right thing?
There’s a lot of stir around old-growth forests lately. After spending the last two years collecting data about their distribution in Europe (not just on old-growth to be sincere, but I don’t want to reopen the terminological Pandora box), performing a massive literature review, bothering hundreds of forest experts all over the continent, and building a network of researchers willing to share their data, we think we can say a word or two on the topic. It seems that some agencies, institutions, and NGOs are also starting to realize that, if you want to protect the last old-growth forest of Europe, you need to know where they are. That’s why the NGO Wild Europe got in touch with us and invited us to contribute to the Conference for the protection of old-growth forest in Europe (Brussels, 13-14th September 2017).
Wild Europe defines this ‘A conference for practical action’. The idea is to gather all the people interested in the protection of old-growth forests to agree on practical actions that address all aspects of an agenda to protect and restore old-growth forests. In short, develop a protection strategy, and find a way to implement it. Of course, to protect something, you first need to know where it is. So, Wild Europe invited us to present our ‘Map of primary forests of Europe’ over the conference. We will give some anticipations of our findings, waiting for the scientific paper to be published in the scientific literature.
See you there?
Credits: Ana Marin, University of Malaga
Inventorying and mapping virgin forests in Europe is not just an interesting research exercise, or a conservation priority. In regions such as the Carpathians, where a considerable fraction of European virgin forest still can be found, the identification and protection of primary forests is formally required by an important regional international treaty. We’re referring to the Carpathian Convention. Signed in May 2003 by seven Carpathian States (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine), the Carpathian Convention recognizes at the Art. 10 of the Protocol on Sustainable Forest management that ‘Each Party shall take measures in its national territory aimed at identifying and protecting natural, especially virgin forests of the Carpathians […]’. In this context, the mapping effort of FORESTS&CO could not pass unobserved by the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention (SCC).
We’ve recently come back from the Bieszczady Mountains, a mountain range that runs from the extreme south-east of Poland through Ukraine and Slovakia, and is part of the Outer Eastern Carpathians. For those who believe that not much wilderness remains in Europe, then I warmly recommend a visit to these places. Bears, big packs of wolves and herds of free-ranging bisons, all can be encountered in the forests and meadow in the area, as long as one is willing to get up before the birds and wait patiently in one of the little wood hunting towers spread in the area.
Observing the wilderness, however, was not the only reason why us, the Conservation Biogeography Lab took our students there. Indeed, the Bieszczady Mts are a great place to get some hands-on experience on how to collect field data in biogeography, as this is the core of the Field Methods in Biogeography class, taught yearly by Prof. Tobias Kuemmerle and Laura Kehoe.
What’s impressive about the Bieszczady Mts is how they put you in touch with both Nature and History, and how the two combined into a great land-use science experiment.
Make sure you don’t miss our new paper ‘One taxon does not fit all: Herb-layer diversity and stand structural complexity are weak predictors of biodiversity in Fagus sylvatica forests’ just published Open-Access on the journal ‘Ecological Indicators’ (2016).
Forest ecosystems are extremely complex. They host a wide spectrum of organisms (biologists call them taxa) that together compose their biodiversity assets. Plants, mammals, lichens, insects, fungi, birds, anura (frogs), oligochaetes (worms), spiders, mites, cyanobacteria, there is a lot of life out there and biologists struggle to get a complete picture of the whole set of species that could be find in a given forest stand. It is a fact, sampling biodiversity requires time, money and expertise which are not always available. Nevertheless, if we want to correctly prioritize our conservation and restoration efforts, we require a thorough understanding of the spatial distribution of biodiversity.
How can we deal with this problem?
Continue reading “The mess of sampling forest biodiversity”