Climate change increases the drought risk in Central European forests: What are the options for adaptation?

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Abstract

The paper presents information on the projected drought exposure of Central Europe, describes the anticipated dynamics of the regional forests, and identifies measures facilitating the adaptation of forests to climate change-induced drought risk. On the basis of an ensemble of climate change scenarios we expect substantial drying in southern Slovakia and Hungary, while such trends were found to be less pronounced for the Czech Republic and Austria. In response to these climate trajectories, a change in species composition towards a higher share of drought tolerant species as well as the use of drought resistant provenances are identified as paramount actions in forest adaptation in the region. Adaptation to aggravating climate change may need to use artificial regeneration to enrich local gene pools and increase the drought tolerance of stands. Increasing risks from pests, pathogens and other disturbances are expected as a result of more frequent and severe droughts, underlining the need to put a stronger focus on risk management principles rather than on indicators of productivity in silviculture and forest planning. A consolidation of disturbance monitoring systems and a broader use of pest dynamics and hazard rating models are paramount tools to facilitate this adaptation process in forest management. The effectiveness of all the suggested measures needs to be controlled by efficient forest monitoring systems, the consolidation of which seems to be a timely task. Systematic and long-term implementation of the presented measures should increase forest stability and resilience, and further secure the sustainable provision of ecosystem services under climate change.

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Central European Forestry Journal

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