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ConFoBi goes Nationalpark

ConFoBi goes Nationalpark

By Johannes Penner

E) Coordination

One of the central themes of ConFoBi is that protected areas are not sufficiently big enough and not sufficiently connected to protect biodiversity on large temporal and spatial scales. Thus, it is important to integrate conservation measures in managed areas, in our case forests. Some of our study plots are located in protected areas but not inside the National Park Black Forest, we concentrate our work further south. Nevertheless all the ConFoBi disciplines are curious to discover what challenges a National Park faces, especially if it was just recently established and is located in a nearly identical ecosystem.
In mid-November, ConFoBi took the opportunity to have an excursion to the National Park Black Forest. This was facilitated by the fact that there are many personal connections between members of ConFoBi and the scientists of the National Park and Stefanie Gärtner is even part of both worlds.

Figure 1 – Amazing scenery part 1, a few shades of fog, clouds and sun (photo Sebastian Schwegmann).

A group of brave ConFoBi members, including our current visiting PhD student from Padova Alessia Portaccio, took up the challenge and went north. After arrival we realised immediately, winter is coming up! We acclimatised indoors in the NaturFreundehaus in Kniebis, enjoyed their hospitality and a great introduction into the Park as well as the social science research conducted by National Park staff given by Susanne Berzborn. It was fascinating to see what they do and that the important social science component is well integrated from the very beginning. Afterwards we collected our spirits, went outdoors and enjoyed a great walk with the park ranger Lukas Schmidt. Besides 50 shades of fog and sun, we received great insights into more details of the National Park and the daily life of a great ranger. Warmth and calories were recovered back in the NaturFreundehaus, surplus energy was directly spent in vicious matches of table tennis and wild rounds of fast paced Uno with ever changing rules. More calories were recovered next morning at breakfast and afterwards burned in the National Park. Stefanie Gärtner took us on a tour into the heart of Black Forest wilderness. We were intrigued by an attempt to speed up the process of becoming a wilder area and were rewarded by a Three-toed woodpecker who seemed to be quite unfazed by researchers admiring it. Afterwards group dynamics and duties had their turn and two people remained for the final walk in the area.

Figure 2 – Amazing scenery part 2, the fearless group of the second day.

As with everything new and projects which desire to change things which have been established for long times, the National Park was founded in 2014, it faces controversial discussions. We are thankful for the opportunity to gain personal first hand insights and to discover the long way the National Park has already gone and wish everyone involved all the best for the future steps!

Colouring the woods

Colouring the woods

By Johannes Penner

E) Coordination

Recognizing our study plots in the forest can take some time. We have marked all four corners of the plots and the points in between them, but there is still lots of room for errors: the GPS is not always that precise, sometimes undergrowth is too dense and our wooden poles disappear in the vegetation despite their bright pink colour on the top. However, more obvious markings have several advantages. First, people new to our study plots find them faster. Second, the foresters and their contracted personnel can more clearly identify the borders of our study area. This is important because foresters help our project by not logging any trees inside the plots, but this can be difficult for them as they are not as familiar with the precise plot borders. Let me briefly explain why not logging inside our study plots helps us. We cannot collect all of our data at the same time; instead, we take repeated measurements over several years. If the shape and structure of our plot changes, then our data from year to year is no longer comparable. Therefore, markings that literally “jump out at you” are very helpful.

Our irreplaceable field assistant Jörg conducted some research, consulted the experts and together we developed a plan for how to mark the border trees so that the markings are highly visible and last for the life time of our project. The envisioned end is summer 2025. The foresters agreed with our choice and so for some time now Jörg has been painting the woods with a double dashed line in a wonderful shade of blue. See his craftsmanship below!

Figure 1: Jörg making our woods colourful (again) (Foto: ConFoBi / Jörg Memmert).

Applying the paint with a brush alone is not sufficient; it will not last long enough. The bark has to be cleaned beforehand… So if you encounter a tall guy sprinkled in dirt and blue paint, with a steel brush in hand, up on a ladder attacking trees deep in the woods, do not be surprised: he has a an important job to do, lots of trees to clean and paint.

Figure 2: The result with a standard pole in the background. Note that the third line indicates the interior edge of the study plot (Foto: ConFoBi / Jörg Memmert).

These nicely visible markings in the forest will hopefully allow future students and research assistants to collect more awesome data from our study plots. By the way, we are currently preparing the job descriptions for the new group of PhD students. So in case you are interested in joining the team as one of twelve new PhD students, keep checking our webpage. We will announce the positions in December 2018 and the positions will all start in July 2019. We are very much looking forward to heaps of applications from a large diversity of backgrounds! Exciting times in ConFoBi with a second group of highly skilled and motivated new PhD students are coming soon!

How uncertainty affects models in ConFoBi and implications for planning

How uncertainty affects models in ConFoBi and implications for planning

by Andrey Lessa

C1) Economics of Management for Biodiversity

As you might already know from reading through our webpage, the ConFoBi projects do extensive field surveys in the search for connections between measures of forest structure and the various taxa. This invaluable information are used among others by the subproject C1 to conduct economic analyses and to plan conservation actions. The analyses and planning are done with the help of models, which are a simplification of the ecosystem under study. Nowadays one of the most important challenges in this area is the handling of uncertainty related to the systems under study. Climate change, sampling coverage, and numerous model parameters are only a few of the various uncertainties that affect the responses of our models. In order to provide robust recommendations we need to properly tackle and communicate them.

Recently, the use of Bayesian inference is gaining popularity among ecologists of various areas and has largely contributed to uncertainty assessment in ecological models. Among the various advantages of Bayesian calibration is the possibility to get a direct estimation of the parameter uncertainty related to our model predictors. In a recent paper arising from a joint effort from the subprojects A2, B6 and C1, Marco Basile has calibrated bird responses to forest structures using a hierarchical Bayesian model. It is of interest to identify the reasons why some parameters in the model have wider ranges than others. With that knowledge we can focus our efforts on collecting data that help to reduce this uncertainty and finally produce more accurate forecasts of bird responses to forest management. A simple option to realize that is to use a Monte Carlo simulation of the posterior parameter distribution and see how these changes the model’s responses. Afterwards, we can identify the most important parameters affecting the model responses, which will depend on how uncertain the parameters are and how sensitive the model is to these parameters. Here we did this exercise, sampling 1000 times the parameter distribution and calculating the model response, aiming to find the parameters causing the greatest variation in the estimated bird abundance (figure 1).

 

Figure 1: Bird abundance estimates. The figure shows the frequency of the bird abundance model responses for the 1000 random draws of the parameter distributions. Each plot shows the effect of the specific parameter uncertainty, maintaining all the others fixed. TreM is the abbreviation of “tree microhabitat”.

Our study area is dominated by Norway spruce and thus, not surprisingly, the parameter related to the share of conifers caused most variation on the model’s responses, since the sampling intensity in this category was smaller and the bird assemblage is sensitive to this landscape feature. Altitude was the second most important parameter. This suggests that increasing the sampling intensity to cover a wider variation of forest cover in terms of species composition (i.e. plots with larger share of broadleaves) and could reduce the uncertainty related to the model’s responses. This is straightforward using the Bayesian updating here to update the posterior distribution of the parameters.

In this simple example we could identify key sources of uncertainty for bird abundance forecasts. A targeted data collection to reduce the confidence interval of the abundance predictions can be of great value for conservation planning. Taking into account that tree species conversion is costly, more confident estimates on bird responses can help to define narrower targets for mixed forests, increasing the efficiency of conservation policies.

 

Forest retention across borders: ConFoBi visits Finland

Forest retention across borders: ConFoBi visits Finland

by Anna Knuff

with contributions from Bettina Joa, Fabian Gutzat, Jan Helbach, Johannes Penner, Ronja Mikoleit & Taylor Shaw

Integrating biodiversity conservation of multiple-use forests and forest management is a major topic not confined to Germany, much less Baden-Württemberg, where ConFoBi does its research. We were curious about what experiences other countries have had so far. What kind of research has been conducted in other forest ecosystems? How does the transfer of knowledge from science to policy, and vice-versa, work elsewhere? What successes have been achieved? What parallels or differences are there compared to Germany? What can we learn from each other? And are the islands in Finland’s numerous lakes also forested? Furthermore, after our Summer School 2017 where we visited the forest that most closely resembles a natural forest—Bialowieza in Poland—we wanted to experience experimental retention forestry. With all these questions in mind, a group of seven ConFoBi members ventured out to explore Finland with its boreal forests as their Summer School 2018.

Fig. 1. One of the 187.888 lakes in Finland.

Our trip brought us first to Joensuu, a university town in eastern Finland. There, we met Jari Kouki (University of Eastern Finland) and Timo Domisch (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke) who are conducting studies on retention forestry and biodiversity, respectively. Jari introduced us to “Fire and retention trees in facilitating biodiversity in boreal forests” (the FIRE experiment http://forest.uef.fi/jarikouki/project_fire.htm). Many of the threatened species in boreal forests depend on high amounts of dead wood which remain after naturally occurring forest fires. Unfortunately for many of these saproxylic species, modern forestry suppresses fires very effectively nowadays. Additionally, the dominant clear-cutting practice does not leave sufficient dead wood either. In the FIRE experiment, Jari and colleagues tested whether controlled burning and leaving varying amounts of retention trees could alleviate negative consequences on forest biota on harvested sites. They found that there is still a major difference in biodiversity between natural conditions and harvested sites even with retention. They also found that burning significantly influences the system in a positive way for biodiversity conservation: on harvested sites burning distinctly enhanced biodiversity of saproxylic species, especially beetles, at all retention levels. Fire damages the retention trees to different degrees so that many different microhabitats emerge and dead wood is supplied more continuously. Especially in combination with high retention levels, this ensures a long-term supply of critical resources (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. A FIRE experimental site: Even 20 years after burning and clear-cutting at a high retention level, there is still continuous dead wood supply.

With Timo, we visited some Finnish study sites of the project “Functional significance of forest biodiversity in Europe” (FunDivEurope http://project.fundiveurope.eu/). Within this project, researchers from 15 European countries examined whether the number of tree species in forests (i.e. tree richness and species composition) affects ecosystem services such as timber production, carbon storage and insect herbivory. Thanks to the large-scale set up of study sites in which they could use the same methods in forests of different tree richness all over Europe, they were able to make comparisons between vegetation zones. As often in ecological research, the closer you look the more complicated it becomes. Mediterranean, temperate and boreal forests differ greatly in their ecosystem services. These differences are not well explained by the number of tree species (i.e. whether we look at mono- or mixed cultures). What is far more important is the tree species itself, and what combinations of species comprised the experimental sites (Fig. 3). Still a large part of the variation remains unexplained and calls, as always, for more research.

Fig. 3. Visiting Luke and their study sites of FunDivEurope: Measurements are still being collected in the plots.

On our way back to Helsinki, we stopped at Lusto, the Finnish forestry museum. During a guided tour and subsequent exploration of the museum on our own, we gained insights into historical and present day forest uses and their influence in Finland. These ranged from timber harvest, collection of berries and mushrooms, production of tar to slash-and-burn agriculture. We also learned about the social significance of forests for Finnish communities, including forest mythology and folklore (in which bears play a feature role), single trees used for ritual and ceremony, and local forests which to date provide space for foraging, play, education, exercise and folk art. The exhibitions were complemented by contemporary pieces of art either concerning forests or made of wood and other forest products (Fig. 4). The museum is outstanding and we all agreed that it provided a comprehensive overview with numerous well-selected details.

Fig. 4. At the Lusto Forestry Museum: Only occasion where we could observe elks from close range

In Helsinki, we met Eeva Primmer, a researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE who is also closely associated with ConFoBi (Fig. 5). We had a science-policy seminar on biodiversity conservation in managed forests, with a diverse range of interesting talks from both representatives of Finnish institutions and ConFoBi. Saija Kuusela from SYKE spoke about METSO (http://www.metsonpolku.fi/en-US), a highly regarded and successful program, which encourages private forest owners to participate in voluntary biodiversity conservation through a compensation scheme. She shared insights about how she addresses high-level decision-makers in other projects and reflected upon how findings need to be communicated very context-sensitively depending on the target audience and their needs.

An example of how knowledge of biodiversity conservation was integrated into management of state-owned forests was given by Lauri Saaristo from Tapio, a provider of forest management related advisory and consulting services in Finland. Tapio (http://tapio.fi/etusivu/briefly-in-english/) is an interesting case of an intermediary organization with very good connections to both the government and forest owners, and as such is well-position to communicate scientific results to practitioners. In Germany, due to the federally fragmented forestry policy landscape and the resulting diversity of organizations, such boundary-crossing work might need to be tackled differently. Maari Loiskekoski, a ministerial adviser at the Ministry of the Environment, added a perspective on biodiversity conservation from public administration’s viewpoint.

Doctoral students of ConFoBi gave an overview of the integrative forestry management paradigm in Germany, forest management policy and practice related to forest biodiversity conservation in Baden-Württemberg to the Finnish attendees (Ronja Mikoleit), presented first results on local ecological knowledge and conservation practices of private forest owners in Baden-Württemberg (Bettina Joa) and introduced an approach for evidence-based biodiversity management guidelines (Fabian Gutzat).

Fig. 5. Our ConFoBi group with Eeva (left) at SYKE Finnish Environment Institute.

The program of this year’s Summer School added nicely to our last Summer School to Bialowieza National Park (Poland). Last year we visited close-to-pristine forest remnants and explored the tensions arising over how to use them. This year, in contrast, we took a deep look at boreal forests, which have a management system that differs from our study region in the Black Forest. We met scientists who conduct similar research to ours, but in different settings, and learned the value of fire. We had a lively exchange with people from the policy-science interface and glimpsed into the long road ahead of us in our translational approaches. We returned with many new insights and an admiration for Finish bakery and hospitality. And yes, most islands are forested – but not all of them…

Spotlight on the forest floor

Spotlight on the forest floor

By Jan Helbach

B2) Mechanisms of vegetation change

Why do plants grow where they grow was one of the first question I had when I started being interested in botany. Furthermore, I was puzzled why some places harbour more species than others, although site conditions are similar. In forests, the amount of light reaching the forest floor is often proposed as having a high influence on plant community compositions. In order to test that, I conduct a large experiment to investigate that on a small scale.

We installed 320 so called PAR sensors. PAR is the abbreviation for “photo catalytic active radiation” and is the range of visible light that is used by plants to conduct photosynthesis and produce sugar. The sensors are connected to data loggers (see figure 1, inside the white boxes) were designed, built and programmed by members of the Geobotany lab of the University of Freiburg. This allows us to reduce costs and have full control of the recorded data. In addition, it keeps the loggers flexible and they can easily be adapted for other (new) projects.

Figure 1: Calibration of PAR sensors on the roof of the department of Geobotany. The sensors are all positioned on a wooden platform, the white boxes contain the custom-made data loggers.

Inside the forest, twelve sensors are placed in one row at 80cm intervals. The vegetation in the area around the sensors (40cm by 40cm quadrats) is mapped in high detail. The range of light availability over time can explain why plants with differing light demands occur in close proximity.

As usual not everything went smooth. A problem we encountered during our first runs were rodents because apparently they like to nibble on the wires connecting the sensors with the data loggers. To avoid that, corrugated tubes were placed around the connecting wires (see figure 2).

Currently, the sensors are still outside and take one recording of the light intensity every three minutes. They started at the end of April/early May 2018 and will be left outside until October 2018 to cover one full growing season. Afterwards the sensors and loggers will be recovered and data will be read out. Data sets will be large (approximately 8MB per CSV file) and will hopefully provide a detailed overview of the light conditions at the recorded place. This allows us to calculate accurate light niches for the recorded plant communities. These niches might be a more precise approach to characterise the light preferences of plants than Ellenberg’s parameters. In the mid 70s Heinz Ellenberg developed a sophisticated system to classify plants in Central Europe based on their ecological requirements. Among several abiotic factors, he classified light preferences in nine classes, ranging from preferring deep shade to preferring full light in open spaces.

 

Figure 2: Sensors recording light on plot CFB055.
The early bird catches the worm

The early bird catches the worm

By Marco Basile

B6) Bird-Forest Relationship

You have already heard of the ConFoBi project and its set-up. And you probably heard birds are also a part of the biodiversity components investigated in the project. So, perhaps, you are wondering how it is possible to deal, within one hectare plots, with organisms that can fly, a lot and fast. Indeed, bird data collection is a fundamental chapter of every forest ecology book. Through point count surveys (recording all birds seen or heard in the plot centre for a fixed time), we are able to asses the relationship between birds and environmental structures at different spatial scales. That’s what B6 project does. And the trick stands here, my fellow readers, in the multiple spatial scales investigated. Playing around with space allows us to overcome the issue of high mobility of birds. In the end, we are trying to hold accountable the information from single plots, while being consistent with the greater picture present in the landscape.

Black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) feeding on ants which are the main part of their diet (photo: Johannes Penner)

Last spring, for example, we assessed the possible relationship between habitat trees and woodpeckers. Woodpeckers can be closely linked to mature forests, with large and old trees and lots of deadwood. Indeed, habitat trees can provide microhabitats (cavities, snags, epiphytes, etc.) which can constitute a relevant component of a bird’s habitat. The results are showing us some significant relationships, suggesting the importance of this kind of research for managing the forest ecosystem.

Ural owl (Strix uralensis; Habichtskauz) from Romania. The species used to be rare in Germany and occurred in the Bavarian Forest close to the Chzech border. After its extinction around 1920 re-introduction programmes are currently under way establishing populations in the National Park Bavarian Forest (photo: Johannes Penner)

 

The forest as a classroom

The forest as a classroom

Foresters exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope in cooperation with ConFoBi researchers

By Bettina Joa

C2) Local biodiversity knowledge and forest conservation practices

In the course of ConFoBi’s yearly information event for foresters managing those forest areas that contain one of the 135 ConFoBi plots, a Marteloscope exercise was conducted with 10 foresters from Forst-BW.

Frank Krumm (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL) and Andreas Schuck (European Forest Institute EFI) introduced the Marteloscope concept as a training tool for thinning exercises revealing common challenges and trade-offs in integrative forest management. Marteloscopes are one hectare forest sites where all trees have been numbered, mapped and measured. The economic value has been calculated for each stem based on tree volume, tree assortments and corresponding local timber price lists. The ecological value (in habitat points) has been assessed for each tree in dependence on the identified microhabitats. With the help of the “I+”software that runs on mobile devices, trees can be virtually harvested and retained. Thereby the results of the individual tree selection, namely the ecological and economic consequences, can be immediately displayed, initiating discussions as well as learning processes.

Virtual thinning with the “I+” Software
Virtual thinning with the “I+” Software

The training exercise on March 22nd took place at the Rosskopf, which belongs to the Freiburg City Forest. The Rosskopf Marteloscope comprises of a multi-layered, about 105 years old stand, consisting mainly of Silver fir, Beech and Douglas fir. Some of the Douglas firs having reached the target diameter, were already harvested in the course of past management operations.

During the exercise, the foresters worked together in 2-person teams dealing with the task of harvesting 30m³ Douglas fir and 20m³ Beech, while retaining 10 habitat trees, ideally showing ecological valuable microhabitat structures. While trade-offs and different decision options were already intensively discussed during the one-hour thinning exercise within the teams, the final discussion with all 10 participants went even more vivid. When asked to present their decisions for specific trees, participants gave very different, yet comprehensible justifications for either retaining, harvesting or leaving the specific tree.

Foresters from Forst-BW exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope.
Foresters from Forst-BW exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope.

The results of the thinning exercise confirmed that there are diverse approaches to effectively integrate conservation objectives in forest management. Thereby, individual strategies may both be influenced by different goals and preferences, stand and landscape structures, background experiences and maybe also by a pinch of gut feeling. To make oneself aware about this, Martelocope exercises can be very illustrative and may even stimulate changes of perspective.

Even after spending a whole afternoon in the “forest classroom”, there is still much to discuss and learn about integrative forest management. Thus, this will certainly not have been the last ConFoBi Marteloscope exercise.

Having fun in the forest classroom.
Having fun in the forest classroom.
How does ConFoBi relate to decision-making?

How does ConFoBi relate to decision-making?

By Eeva Primmer

I have always had a keen curiosity toward decision-making and communication. This is why I was excited about the opportunity to support ConFoBi researchers in thinking about these issues in the 2018 symposium, in the coldest winter of Freiburg.

Biodiversity conservation decisions are made at different levels. Strategic decisions are made at high levels, for example by governments and directors, operational decisions at the level of forest management practice, by foresters and planners. The ways in which new research findings – or more generally a research based understanding – are filtered to policy and practice, intrigue ConFoBI researchers. Even more mysterious is the way in which decision-makers work and how they apply knowledge they have acquired from different sources.

The ConFoBi 2018 World Cafe
The ConFoBi 2018 World Cafe held brainstorm sessions on the interaction between research, policy and practice.

So, the ConFoBi researchers used the symposium to put their heads together to think of how their research findings feed to policy and practice, and of how they can learn about these decision-making settings. The “world café” type group work was organized under four headings: science to policy, science to practice, policy to science and practice to science.

The workshop showed that communicating science to policy needs to be based on an understanding that ‘policy’ is very broad and diffuse, including decisions made at different levels, the politics surrounding these decisions, and the discussions in media and society influencing and interpreting them. In communicating to policy, ConFoBi should be sensitive to recognizing policy debates, decision-making points and other windows of opportunity. This might multiply the impact of the very important regular communication, especially if the contributions are made in a language that reaches the participants of the topical discussions.

For making meaningful contributions to policy and also to practice, ConFoBi researchers need to acknowledge the needs and time horizons of decision-making cycles. Sometimes policy formulation and implementation take years or decades and other times political decisions can be made very fast, and even practice can take a new direction abruptly. The knowledge needs that practitioners and strategic decision-makers have in these settings can vary a lot.

The balancing between goals and interests seems to be what politics and decision-making is about, even in the most practical settings. Yet, they set the incentives for management, or protection. For contributing to policy and practice, it is important to understand the interests of the different actors and the various goals that they need to meet. Perhaps ConFoBi could sometime in the future identify these conflicts and support the understanding of tradeoffs that decisions need to address.

The ConFoBi 2018 world cafe
The ConFoBi 2018 world cafe

The language, format and channels through which we communicate, is extremely important. In addition to summarizing research in brief and popular terms, ConFoBi can reach out to policy implementation and practice by joining and contributing to forestry and nature conservation meetings, excursions and demonstrations. In all these settings, the language needs to be adjusted to match that of the

participants and audiences. For a deeper understanding of policy and practice, researchers and decision-makers could also spend longer periods in the working settings of each other. In hierarchical settings we might need to start with the decision-makers at the top, to reach practice.

The ConFoBi researchers thought that once the project produces results, reaching the different audiences and processes needs some core messages about retaining trees and structures in managed forests as well as the ecological and economic impacts of retention. The core messages should be based on evidence and also communicate uncertainties. The ivory tower of science is the place for ensuring quality and validity but we need a connection to society for securing the relevance of our research.

We could also aim to make practical recommendations and develop support tools. Yet, in some instances we might be better to communicate a message of urgency of conserving forest nature and the value of the wonderful things we need to preserve, like the habitat trees. As many of the messages have been said already before, we need to communicate in an illustrative fashion, and work in concert with the numerous actors out there who can take the messages further into policy and practice.

The application, applicability, evidence base, use and framing of knowledge can also be an explicit target of research, as the ConFoBi projects C and D nicely portray. For more inspiration, you might be interested to read also about the conflicts that biodiversity conservation decision-makers deal with, what kind of mechanisms for governance and knowledge application can be identified, and what kind of institutional adaptation is required for integrating biodiversity conservation into practice.

 

ConFoBi goes IUFRO

ConFoBi goes IUFRO

By Bettina Joa

C2) Local biodiversity knowledge and forest conservation practices

During the last week, Freiburg had the honor of hosting the 125th Anniversary Congress of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), one of the world’s oldest international scientific organizations. And right in the middle: Numerous ConFoBi PhDs giving exciting lectures and presenting inspiring posters.

Nathalie discussing her research with an interested visitor of the poster session.
Nathalie discussing her research with an interested visitor of the poster session.

On Monday, Marco presented his current research in a session about New advances in the assessment and restoration of habitat structures in forests with a lecture on The conservation of forest structural complexity through retention forestry: a bird’s perspective. In a parallel session about The Role of Social Science in Forestry and Forest Management, Bettina presented the results of her literature review on Local ecological knowledge and its relevance for forest biodiversity conservation. The audience of her session learnt that this kind of knowledge and related forest management practices have not been empirically analyzed in a central European context. Addressing this research gap, Bettina’s work in ConFoBi will contribute to a better understanding of what role local ecological knowledge can play in conserving biodiversity in managed forests. In another parallel session dealing with European Climate Smart Forestry, ConFoBi was also present in a joint contribution on Regional forest productivity and economy designate European Climate Smart Forestry in which Andrey collaborated.

Marlot, Nathalie and Ronja presenting ConFoBi at the poster session.
Marlot, Nathalie and Ronja presenting ConFoBi at the poster session.

 On Wednesday Ronja talked about Materially engaging with the forest – Doing research on body practices in forestry. She presented 7 statements on methodological consequences of dealing with materiality in qualitative research, concluding that material elements and incorporated knowledge are important dimensions, structuring the daily work of professionals in forestry. In order to be able to understand this important dimension of social reality, she emphasized the need to develop qualitative research methodology further. Thomas concluded the ConFoBi presentations on Thursday evening with a lecture on Silvicultural practices for wild pear in a session about The importance of minor tree species in future.

Creativity was in demand for the poster presenters in order to stand out against the huge amount of posters. On Monday, Julian presented his current work about The Linkage of Scales in Remote Sensing Biodiversity Assessment in Forests. He came to the conclusion that vertical histograms generated from pointclouds from terrestrial laser scanning and UAV photogrammetry can be combined, even if the georeferencing has an unknown error, by using a weighting function according to the sensors perspective. Diane used her poster to deal with the question Which microhabitats are integral for epiphytic species diversity in retention forestry? She emphasizes the suitability of epiphytes as indicators of environmental changes, whereby light could be an important variable in understanding epiphytic diversity and the tree canopy is an important resource for epiphytes that however is usually over-looked.

On the final conference day, two further ConFoBi posters were presented by Marlot (Landscape-moderated use of forest structures by bats) and Nathalie (eDNA of dead wood samples for assessing saproxylic beetles), who proved that the method of eDNA enables the extraction of beetle DNA from dead wood.

After an inspiring and exciting week of listening to lectures, plenary sessions and keynotes, giving presentations, watching posters, networking and discussing a wide range of forest biodiversity related topics, we are more than ever convinced that conserving forest biodiversity is one of the most pressing global issues. Let’s work on it!

Abstracts of all IUFRO contributions can be found here.

Evidence-based management: insights from countries across Europe

Evidence-based management: insights from countries across Europe

By Fabian Gutzat

D2) Evidence-based biodiversity management of forests

Last year, I had the pleasure to gain deeper insights into approaches towards evidence-based management in other countries than Germany. In August 2016, I attended the first international conference of the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE). Personally, I took home lots of new insights and inspiration as input for the next months. Below, I introduce the major organizations that I got to know at the conference.

Venue of the first international conference of the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE): The Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm.
Venue of the first international conference of the Collaboration for
Environmental Evidence (CEE): The Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm.

In Stockholm, where the conference took place, the Mistra Council for Evidence-based Environmental Management (EviEM) has its secretariat (Director: Sif Johansson). EviEM is funded by The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) and financially independent. Its aim is to strengthen the scientific basis of policy decisions. In most cases, the council conducts systematic reviews on topics that have been suggested by stakeholders during meetings with Mistra EviEM. The thematic scope of the reviews is environmental research. Below some titles of systematic reviews that will be (are) completed:

“How does manipulation of dead wood affect forest biodiversity?”,

“How is biodiversity influenced by the management of forest set-asides?”

“How does tillage intensity affect soil organic carbon (SOC)?”

Mistra EviEM closely works together with CEE. This non-profit collaboration evolved from the Centre for Evidence-Based Conservation (CEBC) which is led by Professor Pullin from Bangor University, UK. CEE is represented by a network of centres which can be found in France, Sweden and several other non-European countries. These national offices provide know-how in review methodology to interested reviewers, engage in awareness raising and assist in the identification of review questions. Once conducted, CEE offers to publish systematic reviews in its open-access journal Environmental Evidence.

Yet another source of information for the efficacy of interventions in environmental management is Conservation Evidence. It was established by Professor Sutherland (University of Cambridge, UK) and is funded, among others, by the British Ecological Society, the Natural Environment Research Council and Natural England. Conservation Evidence offers open access to a searchable database, synopses and a journal with the same name to inform about conservation methods. Similarly to Mistra EviEM, conservation evidence provides collected knowledge but no specific advice because this can depend on the situation on ground.

One may doubt that reviews can influence decision-making. In fact, the study of Walsh et al. (2015) suggests that this is the case. Conservation managers changed their attitude about the efficacy of selected interventions after having read a synthesis of the available evidence (Walsh et al., 2015).

To conclude, the above introduced organizations employ various strategies to facilitate evidence-based management. Some of these strategies might stimulate thoughts how to further improve knowledge translation in Germany.

Reference: Walsh, J. C., Dicks, L. V. and Sutherland, W. J. (2015), The effect of scientific evidence on conservation practitioners’ management decisions. Conservation Biology, 29: 88–98. doi:10.1111/cobi.12370