Experts presented a forecast of the impact of climate change on forests and forestry
In Petrozavodsk (Karelia), the results of the project were presented, which aims to analyze the impact of climate change on forests in the Northwestern Russia (on the example of Arkhangelsk Region and the Republic of Karelia) in the long term. With the aid of a special software, the forest climate forecasting experts modeled the future for 100 years ahead for the most common types of forests in intact forests, secondary forests, and young stands, where sustainable intensive forestry is conducted. The forecast is based on the impact of different climate scenarios and forest management strategies.
According to the data obtained, an increase in temperature by 4.5 – 7.4 degrees and humidity by 19-33% will significantly affect the growth, dynamics, condition and productivity of forests in the northwest.
“Different tree species react differently to climate change. For example, spruce is very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, therefore, will suffer more than other species, – noted Sergey Senko, a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland. – Pine is more stable, but is also at risk, but birch and other hardwoods, on the contrary, will grow better”.
Climate change will undoubtedly lead to more negative phenomena in forests, such as windfalls, fires, the development of forest diseases, pest outbreaks. According to the forecast, in a warmer climate, the number of pests will increase several times, the presence in forests of windfalls and windbreaks will only contribute to the growth of bark beetles. And again, spruce forests will suffer from pests most of all.
"The findings of the study suggest that it is already necessary to take measures to adapt forest ecosystems and forestry to climate change and mitigate its consequences, - comments Andrey Shchegolev, the Head of Arkhangelsk office, WWF-Russia Barents Ecoregion Programme. - In particular, in the long-term planning of forest management and reforestation, more sustainable species should prevail, the capacity of the forest industry in the use of deciduous wood should be enhanced, etc."
At the same time, intact forest areas, represented primarily by coniferous species, lose their attractiveness for the forest business as a reliable source of raw materials in the long term. At the same time, these territories have a high value in terms of conservation of biological and landscape diversity. The natural dynamics and interaction of species that have been formed in such forests for thousands of years make intact forests resistant to climate challenges. However, the existing practice of extensive forest management, including large-scale clear cutting and fragmentation of forests, can lead to a decrease in the adaptive properties of forests.
The University of Eastern Finland and the Swedish Forestry Agency, partners of the project, are working closely on the impact of climate change on forests. On the basis of their research and recommendations, adaptation to climate change is being actively implemented in Swedish and Finnish forestry. Given the similarity of the climate of these countries with the conditions in the Northwestern Russia, the experience of the Scandinavian neighbor countries can be useful.
Due to recent changes in the national regulatory framework of forest management, a section on adaptation of forestry to climate change has already appeared in the Forest Plans of the Russian regions. However, so far, in most Forest Plans this section contains only common phrases, but neither specific measures nor required scope of forest activities are specified. WWF-Russia believes that by coordinating the efforts of non-governmental environmental and scientific organizations, the authorities need to develop clear measures to adapt forestry to the effects of climate change and include them in the regional forest management regulations.
The current project is being implemented with the financial support of The Programme for Environment and Climate Co-operation (PECC), the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO).
Preview photo: © Andrey Shchegolev / WWF-Russia; Headline photo: © Julia Kalinicheva / WWF-Russia