What our forests need in times of climate change

RESONATE Coordinator Marcus Lindner contributed with an expert statement to an initiative of the German Science Media Centre, aiming at providing input to journalists on the current state of the forest in Germany, the potential of our forests to mitigate climate change – and guidance on what adaptation measures are needed to increase forest resilience. The final collection of expert knowledge (available here in German) offered on the topic shows the variety of ecosystem services forests can theoretically provide – from wood production for eg. more sustainable construction of buildings to biodiversity conservation – and what is at stake when forests decline. However, researchers like Marcus Lindner also raise awareness for potential trade-offs when prioritizing one ecosystem service over the other.

“The different expectations towards forests are indeed subject to certain conflicting goals. If we decide to use a maximum of wood for construction that means that there is less wood left in the forests to decompose naturally. This reduces the potential of forests for carbon sinks as well as for biodiversity protection”, says Lindner. When being asked about the needed adaptation measures for forests considering climate change and increased disturbances of the past years, his position is clear: “We need more resilient forests which are composed of site-adapted, mixed forests. We can promote this through continuous cover forestry (forest management concepts without clear-cutting), sustainable game populations and maintaining natural forest habitats while still harvesting timber.” The statements were e.g. discussed in articles published by Heise Media (Was der Wald zu Zeiten des Klimawandel alles können muss | heise online), and RiffReporter (Waldbrände in der Klimakrise: Wie sieht der Wald der Zukunft aus? (riffreporter.de) (both German).