Europe's forests increasingly under pressure

12/12/2022 - European forests are increasingly affected by natural disturbances, a new monitoring study shows - and climate change is likely exacerbating this, according to the results of an international team of scientists.
Europe's forests increasingly under pressure
Photo: Sander Weeteling / Unsplash

An international team of forest scientists from Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the European Forest Institute (EFI), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and 18 other research institutions from across Europe studied damage to Europe's forests and found that it increased statistically significantly from 1950 to 2019 due to disturbances such as wind, fire, bark beetles, and other impacts.

Mats Mahnken, researcher at PIK and co-author of the study, comments: "The increase in damage shows that more forests are losing their resilience to disturbances - in other words, they are becoming increasingly poorly adapted. This increase in damage is due both to changes in disturbance caused by climate change and to past damage to poorly adapted forests. Disturbances are natural drivers of forest dynamics, and adaptive management can strengthen forest resilience."


Marco Patacca, Marcus Lindner, Manuel Esteban Lucas-Borja, Thomas Cordonnier, Gal Fidej, Barry Gardiner, Ylva Hauf, Gediminas Jasinevičius, Sophie Labonne, Edgaras Linkevičius, Mats Mahnken, Slobodan Milanovic, Gert-Jan Nabuurs, Thomas A. Nagel, Laura Nikinmaa,  Momchil Panyatov, Roman Bercak, Rupert Seidl, Masa Zorana Ostrogović Sever, Jaroslaw Socha, Dominik Thom, Dijana Vuletic, Sergey Zudin & Mart-Jan Schelhaas (2022): "Significant increase in natural disturbance impacts on European forests since 1950". Global Change Biology. [DOI: 10.1111/gcb.1653]


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