Technology and science united to strengthen forest management in the face of climate change

Originally published on PEFC España

The territory of Soria, with PEFC certification, will benefit from adaptive measures in forest management thanks to the ForestADAPT Tool.

As a result of the collaboration between different entities, a tool has been designed to strengthen forests against climate change. The work within the LIFE Soria ForestAdapt project developed in this province allocates 1,595,745 euros in four years. It aims to bridge the critical gap between the availability of existing scientific data and its actual application in forest management plans and practices.

The result of the project is the ForestADAPT Tool, an innovative tool developed by Cesefor using scientific data generated by the University of Valladolid, region of Castile and Leon, Spain. This web application can predict how climate change could affect the distribution of the main forest species in Soria in the long term.

The climate projections of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report are conclusive: global warming of 1.5°C to 2°C will be a reality over the 21st century. Anticipating these changes is essential for planning forest management strategies that help forests adapt to new climatic conditions and continue to provide crucial services and resources.

Forests require specific management not to disappear. Reforestation is an important action for nature, forests and our planet’s biodiversity. Still, protecting existing trees with measures that strengthen them and prevent their degradation and consequent deforestation is equally or even more critical. The most effective tool to achieve this is management. The role of this tool is fundamental, as anticipating these foreseeable future effects helps plan forest management strategies that incorporate adaptation measures to new climate conditions and continue to provide goods and ecosystem services.

The ForestADAPT Tool application shows the suitability of the land in Soria for establishing different forest species of interest, considering the forecasts of temperature increase and rainfall variation. It also provides information on the diversity of species that could occupy specific areas in the future. Based on this analysis, the application can assess the risks of redesigning the management needed to cope with the conditions from now to the end of the century.

ForestADAPT is a web application designed to provide online information quickly and easily, with rigorous scientific standards. It has great potential for future decision-making in forestry.

News from RTVE in Soria about the LIFE Soria Forest Adapt project

Anticipating the future of the forests in Soria

Soria has been considered an exemplary province by its forest management since ancient times and is also one of the most wooded areas in Spain. Its forests have a long history and a wide variety of species: holm oak forests, high mountain beech forests, Savin forests, relict forests from the Tertiary period and a great diversity of pine species, such as the southernmost black pine forest in Europe.

Rising temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns associated with climate change may adversely affect forest species. Those outside their ideal habitat may experience stress, reduced productivity and difficulty regenerating.

ForestADAPT Tool uses species distribution models to assess the potential risk of a forest species being affected by climate change. These models are based on mathematical algorithms that relate environmental and climatic conditions to the compatibility of forest species in a specific location. It is an essential tool for understanding and preparing for the challenges of climate change in our forests. It will help adopt effective forest management strategies and ensure the continuity of valuable ecosystem services.

PEFC sustainable forest management in Soria

The ForestADAPT Tool will soon be available and helpful in adapting forest management measures in Soria. This territory has a large amount of managed area and about 152,000 hectares of forests certified under the PEFC System. In these accredited forests, there is a predominance of pine forests, distributed in 47,493 ha of Pinus sylvestris, 45,840 ha of Pinus pinaster, 10,610 ha of Pinus nigra, there is also important implantation of Juniperus, with 8,700 ha of Juniperus thurifera, and finally Quercus with 8,500 ha of Quercus pirenaica and 4,224 ha of Quercus ilex.

The richness and importance of these forests are clear since 21%, i.e. 31,380 ha of the PEFC-certified forest area, are declared NATURA 2000. More than 7,000 ha are Sites of Community Interest, and the remaining 24,000 are Special Protection Areas for Birds. Preserving biodiversity through the management measures that the ForestADAPT tool will facilitate will be essential for them to continue being a refuge for fauna and flora.

LIFE Soria Forest Adapt The LIFE Soria ForestAdapt project is supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union. The project is coordinated by the Fundación Global Nature in collaboration with the Fundación Centro de Servicios y Promoción Forestal y de su Industria de Castilla y León (Cesefor), the Fundación Privada Empresa y Clima (FEC), the Asociación para la Certificación Española Forestal (PEFC España), the Forest Stewardship Council in Spain (FSC España), the University of Valladolid (UVa) and the Fundación General de la Universidad de Valladolid (FUNGE).