Old Growth Forests In Slovakia Will Be Protected In Newly Established Nature Reserve

From WWF Central And Eastern Europe
Old Growth Forests of Slovakia is the official name of a new nature reserve approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic. Establishment of the new reserve is a result of long lasting effort of two conservation organizations OZ Prales and WWF Slovakia. Yet unprotected or insufficiently protected old growth and natural forests in 76 localities througout Slovakia with a total area of almost 6.5 thousand hectares are going to be declared a nature reserve on December 1st, 2021.

About a year ago (September 17th, 2020), WWF Slovakia and NGO PRALES submitted a petition with more than 30,000 signatures supporting the declaration of The Old Growth Forest Reserve to the Slovak Minister of the Environment Ján Budaj. The petition was the last step in the long-lasting efforts of the organizations to protect remaining old growth forests in Slovakia. However, the effort of NGOs had begun years ago by old growth forests mapping and continued through numerous negotiations and the preparation of the conservation proposal itself.

„Under the Carpathian Convention, Slovakia made a commitment to identify its natural forests and old growth forests. We seized this task in the belief that it is a topic, which can unite foresters and conservationists. Unfortunately, this was not the case. However, the results of mapping were gradually recognized by the relevant state institutions, although we lost several hundreds of hectares of old growth forests on this route. Therefore, in addition to all those involved in mapping and ensuring the protection of forests, I would like to thank all foresters who perceived the protection of old growth forests as our commitment to future generations,” says Marián Jasík, conservation expert from OZ Prales.

“When in 2017 WWF Slovakia entered into negotiations about the protection of old growth forests in Slovakia, the topic was impassable for many foresters or officials. However, as we did not retreat in our efforts, the first success came in 2019, when a new amendment to the Forest Act allowed forest owners and managers to protect old growth forests in their possession on a voluntary basis. The global loss of biodiversity we are witnessing nowadays is historically the largest and fastest ever, therefore I believe that no one doubts that the old growth forests in Slovakia deserve proper protection,“ says Miroslava Plassmann, director of WWF Slovakia.

Old growth forests mapping lasted from 2009 to 2015 and had proven that 10,180 hectares remained in Slovakia out of which one third is unprotected or insufficiently protected. Therefore, NGO PRALES and WWF Slovakia prepared a proposal for establishment of a nature reserve in 2018 and after several negotiations with the Forests of Slovak Republic state enterprise (LESY SR) gained a public commitment that foresters will not intervene in the localities identified as parts of the proposed nature reserve until the final decision about the proposal is made. In 2020 the 30,759 people signed petition organized by WWF Slovakia and Prales supporting the declaration of the new nature reserve Old Growth Forests of Slovakia.

The Government of the Slovak Republic approved establishment of the nature reserve on November 3rd, 2021. The Old Growth Forest of Slovakia nature reserve will become a reality on December 1st, 2021. It will include 76 state owned forest localities in various parts of Slovakia with a total area of 6,462.42 hectares.
With this decision, Slovakia contributes to the goals in the Carpathian Convention and in The EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030, according to which “all of the EU’s remaining primary and old-growth forests should be strictly protected.”

Source: Old Growth Forests In Slovakia Will Be Protected In Newly Established Nature Reserve – Scoop News, 2021-11-06

New WSU podcast shares insights for healthy and safe forests

By Seth Truscott
Washington State University Extension Foresters launched a new podcast this fall to help Pacific Northwest landowners, and anyone who loves the woods, better understand and protect forests.

Co-hosts Sean Alexander and Patrick Shults, foresters for northeast and southwest Washington, respectively, created the Forest Overstory podcast as a new avenue for woodland education.

“WSU Extension Forestry is focused on continuing education for the public, and that includes adapting to new ways of sharing information,” Alexander said. “Podcasts let you have an informal conversation, really get down to the bottom of a subject in a way that you can’t in traditional presentations.”

Forest Overstory will examine issues and discoveries about wildfire, forest health, genetics and ecosystems, wildlife habitat, sustainable harvests, agroforestry, and other relevant topics.

The name is a play on words, referring to the overstory of forests—foliage, canopy, and crowns—as well as the broad stories hosts plan to explore.

“We want to interview professionals and talk about what they do, introduce lesser known fields, and bring in active landowners to share success stories and insights that people can apply to their land,” Alexander said.

“The field of forestry is changing all the time,” said Shults. “We’re always learning new things, and the podcast is a great opportunity to bring professionals and landowners who are doing something different into the limelight.”

“All of the information will help forest owners, but anybody who loves trees is going to be interested,” he added.

Hosts will release a new episode every month, and welcome show ideas and feedback. Their first episode, posted Oct. 1, 2021, discussed fire and the landscape with U.S. Forest Service scientist Paul Hessburg. The series is funded by the Foresters Fund of the Society of American Foresters, which promotes education for sustainable forest management.

Listen to the Forest Overstory on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher, or visit the podcast web site on WSU Extension Forestry.

Source: New WSU podcast shares insights for healthy and safe forests – WSU Insider, 2021-10-25

The BLM partners with American Forests to develop Camp Fire Reforestation Plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In advancing the Department of the Interior’s commitment to bolster adaption and increase resilience to climate change, the Bureau of Land Management today released its Camp Fire Reforestation Plan. The plan, developed by the BLM and American Forests, outlines management goals, assesses potential climate impacts to the Camp Fire burn scar, and uses adaptation strategies and approaches to promote forest recovery.

The Camp Fire Reforestation Plan will improve forest health and resilience, enabling ecosystems to better withstand environmental stressors and recover from disturbances; reduce hazardous fuels and increase community safety; improve wildlife habitat and riparian/wetland functionality; improve plant community diversity and forest structural diversity; identify feasible, cost-effective strategies and plans that can be maintained long term; and protect soils by reducing sedimentation, preventing erosion and promoting a vegetation community that will stabilize soils.

“When it comes to reforestation, we have to use all the climate-smart tools in the toolbox,” said American Forests California State Director Britta Dyer. “To do so, land managers need to be willing to work across jurisdictions and look at a fire scar for what it truly is, a shared responsibility. The BLM had the foresight to be inclusive in that this plan not only restores BLM lands, but it has downstream benefits to all impacted by the devastating Camp Fire.”

“This plan will assist foresters who are implementing recovery actions to the burn scar, such as tree planting and managing vegetation,” said BLM California State Forester Coreen Francis. “The BLM and American Forests engaged stakeholders from private industry, the community, research scientists, and other agencies in developing the plan and formulating the suite of actions needed for long-term forest recovery.”

The 2018 Camp Fire burned more than 153,000 acres, killed 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 structures in Butte County, California. Approximately 4,070 acres of BLM managed lands burned during the fire, and 36 percent of this area (1,400 acres) burned at high severity.

The BLM is at the forefront of developing adaptation strategies to climate change, and this climate planning process will help guide forest management into the future. American Forests is a national conservation organization established in 1875 to work with partners to build healthy and resilient forests in urban and rural landscapes.

The plan was written to be used by agencies, private landowners, or other entities that may be facing similar questions about how to adapt and increase resilience to climate change. A copy of the Camp Fire Reforestation Plan can be found at https://www.blm.gov/programs/natural-resources/forests-and-woodlands, or https://www.americanforests.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/BLM_CampPlan.pdf.

Source: The BLM partners with American Forests to develop Camp Fire Reforestation Plan – Bureau of Land Management, 2021-10-12

Swaths of Atlantic white cedar forest totaling 10,000 acres to be restored

By Michele S. Byers

Step into a mature stand of Atlantic white cedar trees on a hot day and you will instantly feel cooler. These towering native evergreens grow so dense that they shade out sunlight and create forest floor habitat for ferns, sphagnum moss, liverworts, insect-eating plants, rare orchids and swamp pinks.

In turn, this incredible forest supports rare animals like Pine Barrens tree frogs, barred owls and timber rattlesnakes.

Before European settlement, there were about 500,000 acres of Atlantic white cedar forest up and down the East Coast. New Jersey alone had about 115,000 acres of cedar in the Pine Barrens and in the Meadowlands.

But Atlantic white cedars have suffered a double whammy.

In colonial New Jersey, cedar forests were relentlessly chopped down for their strong, lightweight, rot-resistant timber, prized as a building material. The heartwood was so durable that even logs submerged in swamps for centuries could be turned into excellent lumber.

Cedar wood was used for shipbuilding and shingles for roofs and siding. Unfortunately, in the wake of logging, cedar forests often regenerated into maple, gum and pine swamps due to overabundant deer or altered water tables from nearby agriculture, beaver dams, or road crossings with improper culvert pipes.

Today, Atlantic white cedar forests face the modern threat of climate change. Storm surges and rising sea levels caused by the warming climate are inundating many coastal Atlantic white cedar forests with saltwater, killing the trees.

The “ghost forests” left behind are the subject of a haunting art installation at Madison Square Park in New York City through Nov. 14, featuring a stand of dead cedars from an inundated swamp in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

Today, less than 25,000 acres of Atlantic white cedar forest remain in New Jersey, but there is new hope for these magnificent trees.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced plans to restore 10,000 acres of Atlantic white cedar forest over the coming decade, mostly on state-owned lands in the Pine Barrens.

“This is the largest forest restoration project ever undertaken in New Jersey and the largest ever in the nation restoring Atlantic white cedars,” DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said.

“Through this project, we will re-establish once-dominant stands of Atlantic white cedar, but at higher elevations less vulnerable to rising seas and saltwater intrusion, and provide habitat for globally rare plants and wildlife, while capturing and storing carbon and absorbing floodwaters,” LaTourette said.

Source: Swaths of Atlantic white cedar forest totaling 10,000 acres to be restored – centraljersey.com, 2021-10-13

BGCI Launches the State of the World’s Trees Report

A third (30%) of the world’s trees are at risk of extinction.

  • Well-known trees such as magnolias and dipterocarps among most threatened, with oaks, maple (Acer) and ebonies also at risk.
  • Agriculture, logging, and livestock farming are the top threats but climate change and extreme weather are emerging dangers.
  • Islands including St Helena (69% of trees threatened), Madagascar (59%) and Mauritius (57%) have highest proportion of threatened trees.

Read the Report

(London, UK) — Today, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has published a landmark State of the World’s Trees report. The report, compiling work led by the Global Tree Assessment (GTA), is the culmination of five years of research to identify major gaps in tree conservation efforts. It is one of the first assessments of the world’s threatened trees.

Examining the globe’s 60,000 tree species, it reveals that 30% (17,500) of tree species are currently at risk of extinction. That means there are twice the number of threatened tree species globally than threatened mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined.
Over 440 tree species are right on the brink of extinction, the report reveals, meaning they have fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild. These species are found all over the world, from the Mulanje cedar in Malawi, with only a few remaining individuals on Mulanje Mountain, to the Menai whitebeam found only in North Wales, which has only 30 trees remaining.

The report finds hope for the future, however, as conservation efforts led by the botanical community worldwide are growing. Identifying which trees are at risk and ensuring these are protected is the most effective way to prevent extinction and restore endangered species. The report reveals that at least 64% of all tree species can be found in at least one protected area, and about 30% can be found in botanic gardens, seed banks, or other ex situ collections, but further action is needed.

The State of the World’s Trees report brings together research from over 60 institutional partners, including botanic gardens, forestry institutions and universities worldwide, as well as more than 500 experts who have contributed to tree assessments in the last five years.

Source: BGCI Launches the State of the World’s Trees Report – Botanic Gardens Conservation International, 2021-09

Throwing shade: Measuring how much trees, buildings cool cities

By Jeff Grabmeier
When the summer sun blazes on a hot city street, our first reaction is to flee to a shady spot protected by a building or tree.

A new study is the first to calculate exactly how much these shaded areas help lower the temperature and reduce the “urban heat island” effect.

Researchers created an intricate 3D digital model of a section of Columbus and determined what effect the shade of the buildings and trees in the area had on land surface temperatures over the course of one hour on one summer day.

“We can use the information from our model to formulate guidelines for community greening and tree planting efforts, and even where to locate buildings to maximize shading on other buildings and roadways,” said Jean-Michel Guldmann, co-author of the study and professor emeritus of city and regional planning at The Ohio State University.

“This could have significant effects on temperatures at the street and neighborhood level.”

For example, a simulation run by the researchers in one Columbus neighborhood found on a day with a high of 93.33 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature could have been 4.87 degrees lower if the young trees already in that area were fully grown and 20 more fully grown trees had been planted.

Guldmann conducted the study with Yujin Park, who did the work as a doctoral student at Ohio State and is now an assistant professor of city and regional planning at Chung-Ang University in South Korea, and Desheng Liu, a professor of geography at Ohio State.

Their work was published online recently in the journal Computers, Environment and Urban Systems.

Researchers have long known about the urban heat island effect, in which buildings and roadways absorb more heat from the sun than rural landscapes, releasing it and increasing temperatures in cities.

One recent study found that in 60 U.S. cities, urban summer temperatures were 2.4 degrees F higher than rural temperatures – and Columbus was one of the top 10 cities with the most intense summer urban heat islands.

For this new study, Guldmann and his colleagues selected a nearly 14-square-mile area of northern Columbus that had a wide range of land uses, including single-family homes, apartment buildings, commercial and business complexes, industrial areas, recreational parks and natural areas. More than 25,000 buildings were in the study area.

The researchers created a 3D model of the study area using machine-learning techniques which combined 2D land cover maps of Columbus, as well as LiDAR data collected by the city of Columbus from an airplane. LiDAR is a laser sensor that detects the shape of objects. Combining this data resulted in a 3D model showing the exact heights and widths of buildings and trees.

They then turned to computer software that calculated the shadows cast by each of the buildings and trees in the study area over the course of a one-hour period – 11 a.m. to noon – on Sept. 14, 2015.

In addition, the researchers had data on land surface temperatures in the study area for the same date and time. That data came from a NASA satellite that uses Thermal Infrared Sensors to measure land surface temperatures at a resolution of 30 by 30 meters (about 98 by 98 feet). That resulted in surface temperatures for 39,715 points in the study area.

With that data in hand, the researchers conducted a statistical analysis to determine precisely how the shade cast by buildings and trees affected surface temperatures on that September day.

Results showed that, as expected, buildings turned up the heat in the area, but that the shadows cast by them also had a significant cooling effect on temperatures, particularly if they shaded the rooftops of adjacent buildings.

The statistical model could precisely calculate those effects, both positive and negative. For example, a 1% increase in the area of a building led to surface temperature increases between 2.6% and 3% on average.

But an increase of 1% in the area of a shaded rooftop led to temperature decreases between 0.13% and 0.31% on average.

Shade on roadways and parking lots also significantly decreased temperatures.

“We learned that greater heat-mitigation effects can be obtained by maximizing the shade on building rooftops and roadways,” Guldmann said.

Results also showed the importance of green spaces and water for lowering temperatures. Grassy areas, both shaded and exposed, showed significant heat-reducing effects. However, the impact of shaded grass was stronger than that of grass exposed to direct sunlight.

The volume of tree canopies and the area of water bodies also had significant cooling effects.

In the simulation run in the Columbus neighborhood, the researchers calculated that if the current trees there were fully grown, the temperature on a 93.33-degree F day would be 3.48 degrees lower (89.85 degrees).

But that’s not all. The simulation showed that if the neighborhood had 20 more full-grown trees, the temperature would be another 1.39 degrees lower.

Source: Throwing shade: Measuring how much trees, buildings cool cities – Ohio State News, 2021-06-24

USDA, Partners Unveil New Fire Mapping Tool with National Wildfire Management Implications

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today unveiled the new Southeast FireMap, a fire mapping tool for the Southeastern United States that enables resource managers to improve their regional or local approaches to managing wildfire risk and fire management needs through targeted prescribed burns and training. Fire management helps improve forest ecosystem health, increases timber values, reduces the risk of wildfire damage to life and property, reduces ticks and other pests, protects drinking water, and renews healthy ecosystems supporting wildlife habitat, especially in fire-dependent longleaf pine forests.

The SE FireMap version 1.0 decision support tool will map all detectable fires, including managed prescribed burns and wildfires, across nine states. The map and associated tools aim to improve fire management in urban and rural communities through remote sensing and will track both prescribed fire and wildfires throughout Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

The SE FireMap version 1.0 is a Google Earth Engine product and data sharing is available for conservation and community planning purposes. To see the mapping products or request data sharing, visit the partnerships’ Wildland Fire Portal or the SE FireMap. For more information, the Southern Fire Exchange will host a webinar on April 16, 2021. Follow this link to register.

Source: USDA, Partners Unveil New Fire Mapping Tool with National Wildfire Management Implications – NRCS, 2021-03-30

Ontario Releases Plan to Grow and Protect the Forestry Industry and its Forests

NORTH BAY — The Ontario government released Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, the province’s plan to create jobs and encourage economic growth in the forest industry. The strategy will support the Indigenous, northern and rural communities that depend on the sector, while ensuring the province’s forests stay healthy for generations to come. The announcement was made today by John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

“Our government has developed a strategy that will help create more good-paying jobs for Ontarians and provide greater opportunity in communities that depend on the forestry sector,” said Minister Yakabuski. “At the same time, we are taking steps to protect our forests. Ontario’s sustainable forest management practices are based on the most up-to-date science and are continuously reviewed and improved to ensure the long-term health of our forests while providing social, economic and environmental benefits for everyone across the province.”

The fundamental pillar of the strategy is the promotion of stewardship and sustainability, recognizing the importance of keeping Crown forests healthy, diverse, and productive so Ontario’s forest industry can remain viable over the long term. The strategy also focusses on the importance of putting more wood to work, improving cost competitiveness, and fostering innovation, new markets and talent.

Source: Newsroom : Ontario Releases Plan to Grow and Protect the Forestry Industry and its Forests – Ontario.ca, 2020-082-0

World’s most comprehensive analysis of forest resources launched today in an innovative format

FAO launched today the most comprehensive forestry assessment to date in an innovative and easy-to-use digital format.

Available for public viewing, the Global Forest Resources Assessment report (FRA 2020) and its first-ever online interactive dissemination platform contain detailed regional and global analyses for 236 countries and territories.

Users can now consult a comparable and consistent set of more than 60 forest indicators across countries and regions and download the requested data in a non-proprietary digital format. Monitoring of change over time is also possible in parameters such as forest area, management, ownership and use.

The FRA 2020 key findings:

  • The world has a total forest area of 4.06 billion hectares, which is about 31 percent of the total land area. Europe, including Russian Federation, accounts for 25 percent of the world’s forest area, followed by South America (21 percent), North and Central America (19 percent), Africa (16 percent), Asia (15 percent) and Oceania (5 percent).
  • The global forest area continues to decrease, and the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest since 1990. However, the rate of net forest loss decreased substantially over the period 1990-2020 due to a reduction in deforestation[1] in some countries, plus increases in forest area in others through afforestation and natural expansion of forests.
  • Africa has the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010-2020, at 3.9 million hectares, followed by South America, at 2.6 million hectares. The highest net gain of forest area in 2010-2020 was found in Asia.
  • Since 1990 an estimated 420 million ha of forest has been lost worldwide through deforestation, conversion of forest to other land use such as agriculture. However, the rate of forest loss has declined substantially. In the most recent five-year period (2015-2020), the annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares, down from 12 million hectares in 2010-2015 and 16 million hectares in 1990-2000.
  • The area of forest in protected areas has increased by 191 million ha since 1990, and has now reached an estimated 726 million ha (18 percent of the total forest area of reporting countries). In addition, the area of forest under management plans is increasing in all regions – globally, it has increased by 233 million ha since 2000, reaching slightly over two billion hectares in 2020.
  • Top ten countries worldwide for average annual net losses of forest area between 2010 and 2020 are: Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Angola, United Republic of Tanzania, Paraguay, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Mozambique.
  • Top ten countries for average annual net gains in forest area in the same period are: China, Australia, India, Chile, Viet Nam, Turkey, United States of America, France, Italy, Romania.

Source: World’s most comprehensive analysis of forest resources launched today in an innovative format – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2020-07-21

Native approaches to fire management could revitalize communities, Stanford researchers find

By Rob Jordan
It costs more than a new iPhone XS, and it’s made out of hazelnut shrub stems. Traditional baby baskets of Northern California’s Yurok and Karuk tribes come at a premium not only because they are handcrafted by skilled weavers, but because the stems required to make them are found only in forest understory areas experiencing a type of controlled burn once practiced by the tribes but suppressed for more than a century.

A new Stanford-led study with the U.S. Forest Service in collaboration with the Yurok and Karuk tribes found that incorporating traditional techniques into current fire suppression practices could help revitalize American Indian cultures, economies and livelihoods, while continuing to reduce wildfire risks. The findings could inform plans to incorporate the cultural burning practices into forest management across an area one and a half times the size of Rhode Island.

“Burning connects many tribal members to an ancestral practice that they know has immense ecological and social benefit especially in the aftermath of industrial timber activity and ongoing economic austerity,” said study lead author Tony Marks-Block, a doctoral candidate in anthropology who worked with Lisa Curran, the Roger and Cynthia Lang Professor in Environmental Anthrolopogy.

“We must have fire in order to continue the traditions of our people,” said Margo Robbins, a Yurok basket weaver and director of the Yurok Cultural Fire Management Council who advised the researchers. “There is such a thing as good fire.”

The study, published in Forest Ecology and Management, replicates Yurok and Karuk fire treatments that involve cutting and burning hazelnut shrub stems. The approach increased the production of high-quality stems (straight, unbranched and free of insect marks or bark blemishes) needed to make culturally significant items such as baby baskets and fish traps up to 10-fold compared with untreated shrubs.

Reducing fuel load

Previous studies have shown that repeated prescribed burning reduces fuel for wildfires, thus reducing their intensity and size in seasonally dry forests such as the one the researchers studied in the Klamath Basin area near the border with Oregon. This study was part of a larger exploration of prescribed burns being carried out by Stanford and U.S. Forest Service researchers who collaborated with the Yurok and Karuk tribes to evaluate traditional fire management treatments. Together, they worked with a consortium of federal and state agencies and nongovernmental organizations across 5,570 acres in the Klamath Basin.

The consortium has proposed expanding these “cultural burns” – which have been greatly constrained throughout the tribes’ ancestral lands – across more than 1 million acres of federal and tribal lands that are currently managed with techniques including less targeted controlled burns or brush removal.

Source: Native approaches to fire management could revitalize communities, Stanford researchers find – Stanford news Service, 2019-08-27