Will today’s forests and Alpine landscapes be those of the future? Many of the effects of climate change are already becoming visible in the Alpine regions. Elaborated climate models agree that if there is no reversal of the trend by current production systems, high temperatures and low rainfall will be accompanied by extreme weather phenomena and major attacks by insects and other pathogens. Forest owners, land-owning communities and various visitors watch this with concern. Added to this are those who process timber and are involved in protecting and defending cultural land.
The event ‘How can forest-wood sector experts and civil society respond to the climate crisis’, organized by the Italian EUSALP Presidency Trentino Alto Adige intends to contribute to these and other questions by enforcing the dialogue among the actors involved. The various speeches, chaired by Dr. Christian Hoffmann, co-leader of the Task Force “Multifunctional Forests and Sustainable Use of Wood”, encompassed representatives from forest administrations, the furniture industry, researchers and forest policy experts, as well as from future generations to extend the dialogue by another dimension.
The complexity of the climate crisis requires, as Dr. Romano from the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies pointed out, that the various States taking part in the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) formulate in their Forestry Strategies policies that are able to accompany the adaptation of forest ecosystems and the actors involved to the changed conditions at the local level.
As Dr. Unterthiner from the Forestry Department of the Autonomous Province of Bozen/Bolzano emphasized, the medium and long-term goal must be to cultivate adaptable and resilient forests with the support of European funding for the forestry sector. These activities must also take place in harmony with other strategic documents on sustainability and be included in the fields of action of the Forest Agenda 2030.
According to Dr. Brandl of the Bavarian Forest Research Institute, the activities outlined above made it obvious that it is necessary to provide forestry experts and civil society with scientifically coordinated and applicable instruments. In line with the upcoming climatic changes, the aim is to make recommendations for the choice of future tree species for forest management to better manage and communicate the challenges of forest adaptation. Therefore, the climate analogies model was presented as a supportive decision-making tool that enables the identification of regions where future climate references for specific alpine sites are already a reality. Matched with data from forest inventories for the sites to be assessed, and based on a setting of information, a potential composition of tree species based on their climatic characteristics is suggested for adopting future forest management.
The changes taking place will have important effects on the downstream forestry supply chain, emphasized Angelo Marchetti, President of Assolegno-Federlegno. To this end, appropriate legal, tax, financial and economic instruments should be made available to all actors in the forest and timber supply chain to facilitate the role of forestry and downstream wood processing industry in storing carbon dioxide in wood products to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The current geopolitical crisis and the insecurity of supply of the most imported wood species was the focus of Andreas Kleinschmit’s intervention. He stressed the need to pay attention to the valorisation of lesser-regarded tree species and a further push towards product and technological innovation of structural and non-structural products. It is equally important to emphasize the transition from a linear to a multidimensional, circular economic model. Combined with the harmonization of standards and regulations, Circular Economy should also be pursued more actively also in the EUSALP regions.
Ariane Benedikter responded to these demands as a young representative of the future civil society. She confirmed the importance of the ecosystem services of forests and underlined her personal commitment to forestry. Besides she illustrated the personal enrichment of direct participation and how crucial it is in the coming years: to find the balance between resilience and sustainability, to empower young people on the topic and to involve women more closely in the dialogue, to enable active participation for identifying climate change objectives.