Archive for the ‘IUFRO Spotlight’ Category

IUFRO Spotlight #4: Forests: The Carbon Conundrum

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By Robert Jandl, Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO Division 8
(BFW, Austria)

PDF for download

In the coming decades, forests will play a major role in our planet’s carbon cycle and in our efforts to manage the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Getting a better understanding of whether that role might be good (a sink, absorbing carbon) or bad (a source, adding carbon to the atmosphere), motivated a study by Yude Pan and colleagues, recently published in Science Express.

The study identifies global forests as the major terrestrial carbon sink (as opposed to grasslands, peatlands or agricultural lands). It is the first such study to base conclusions on forest inventory and land cover data instead of simulation results.

Using data from around the world, the Pan study shows the distribution of carbon sources and sinks, the importance of temperate and boreal forests as sustained sinks and the enormous fluxes (sources and sinks) contributed by tropical forests.

But overall, the study shows the forests’ role, at least for now, is positive. They are carbon sinks.

As sinks, they currently absorb about 27% of the 8 billion tons of fossil fuel emissions we emit yearly – giving us an arboreal discount on emissions. Factor in oceans and other terrestrial ecosystems and the total absorption rate goes up to over 50%. Without these natural sinks, the rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere would be substantially higher.

But part of the reason for this forest sink rests with some one-time occurrences: recovery of European temperate and boreal forest following intensive land use; transformation of large tracts of Eastern European and Russian agricultural land that were abandoned and have since reverted to forest and, in China, some 40 million ha of afforestation – land that had been used for other purposes or was just barren and has now been turned back into forest. It would be difficult to find that kind of spare land again, so that situation is not likely to reoccur. That will make it more difficult to maintain the current sink into the future.

And, should climate change advance too far and forests and other terrestrial ecosystems transform from carbon sinks to carbon sources and begin pumping vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, human efforts to mitigate climate change could be overwhelmed.

Having and sharing solid forest inventory data and continuing robust forest monitoring, will help us understand the forests’ role in the carbon cycle. That’s important, because there seem to be two vastly different possible responses.

On the optimistic side is a scenario where, in a warmer world, trees will grow faster, enjoy a longer growing season, flourish in areas where they had never before grown, take in more carbon and increase the carbon sink.

The more pessimistic view is that warmer temperatures will mean more forest fires, more insect depredation, more dead and dying trees, more peatland decomposition, thawing permafrost and the transformation of terrestrial ecosystems into carbon sources.

We can’t say with any certainty which path the forests will follow. But we know that the global track record on carbon emissions isn’t great. From 2000-2009 carbon in the atmosphere rose by 4.1 billion tons a year. And in 2010, global carbon emissions increased by 5.9%, the highest annual increase on record. We seem to be heading in the wrong direction at an accelerating pace.

We must do what we can to change or, at the least, mitigate that trend. Forests, and our knowledge of their response to climate change, are critical to accomplishing that.

The full study, A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World’s Forests, can be found at:
http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/products/publications.htm.

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Media Contact

Robert Jandl: +43-1-87838 ext. 1120 or robert.jandl(at)bfw.gv.at
Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org

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Related Links

Study: A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World’s Forests: http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/products/publications.htm

IUFRO Division 8.00.00 – Forest Environment: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-8/80000/

IUFRO Spotlights main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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Photo Credits

Photo 1: Rain forest in Costa Rica. Photo by Judith Stöger-Goiser, IUFRO Headquarters
Photo 2: Delegates of the 4th International Poplar Symposium in China inspecting a Populus deltoides propagation nursery in Jiangsu Province. Photo by Brian Stanton, Coordinator of IUFRO Working Party 2.08.04

IUFRO Spotlight #3: The Montesclaros Declaration

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End trade in detrimental ornamentals to save forests

By Eckehard Brockerhoff, IUFRO Deputy Coordinator of Division 7
(SCION, New Zealand)

PDF for download

In a provocative attempt to save the world’s forests, a group of 70-plus scientists from 17 countries are asking trade policy makers around the globe to phase out such international trade in high-risk plants that put forest health at high risk while offering limited economic benefit.

If the scientists’ proposal is implemented, it would mean an end to all international trade in containerized ornamental plant seedlings and trees intended as plants for instant landscape planting.

This particular trade segment, the scientists say, is of little benefit in terms of countries’ overall economies but provides easy pathways for dispersal of tree pests and diseases. The scientists also suggest that international trade in other plant materials such as wood packaging and wood chips should be more strictly regulated and scrutinized.

A driving force behind the proposal is an unprecedented rise in the number of alien diseases and pests emerging in natural and planted forests worldwide.

In a supplement to their declaration they have included many examples of pests and diseases introduced through international trade that have caused, or are causing, immense economic and environmental damage in countries where they have been newly introduced.

Among the examples are: the pinewood nematode in Europe and North America; the emerald ash borer in North America and Russia; and the Sycamore-killing Ceratocystis plantani fungus in Mediterranean countries.

While the proposal by the scientists may seem a Draconian solution, and one that flies in the face of prevailing ideas of global free trade, there is unanimity among the community of forest pathologists about the devastating consequences of international and long-distance trade in live plants and some other plant materials.

These concerned scientists point out that current protocols used to regulate pest and disease dispersal have been largely ineffective and the only efficient way to reduce these risks is to reduce, and eventually end, this particular trade.

The forest scientists developed their proposal following a IUFRO meeting in Spain earlier this year. It is articulated in a document they entitled the Montesclaros Declaration.

The complete Montesclaros Declaration can be found at: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/70000/publications/montesclaros-declaration/.

Individuals who wish to express their endorsement can send an email to noliveplants(at)gmail.com with contact information (address, etc).

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Media Contact

Eckehard Brockerhoff: +64-3-364 2949 or eckehard.brockerhoff(at)forestresearch.co.nz
Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org

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Related Links

The Montesclaros Declaration: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/70000/publications/montesclaros-declaration/
IUFRO Working Party 7.02.02 – Foliage, shoot and stem diseases
: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/70000/70200/70202/
IUFRO Division 7 – Forest Health: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/70000/
Endorsement of Montesclaros Declaration: noliveplants(at)gmail.com

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Photo Credits

Photo 1:  Mycosphaerella dearnessii on Pinus uncinata: Solitary tree with severe infestation in the lower part of the crown in Lower Austria, June 2010. Photo by Marion Kessler
Photo 2:  Platanus X acerifolia (London plane) killed by Ceratocystis platani. Photo by Paolo Capretti

IUFRO Spotlight #2: Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge

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Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity

By Su See Lee, IUFRO Vice-President
(FRIM, Malaysia)

PDF for download

A new book invites forest scientists to think outside the box – or, perhaps outside the laboratory – and make more of an effort to incorporate elements of traditional knowledge in their research and forest management activities.

The book, Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity, published by Springer just this month, takes a long look at the contribution traditional knowledge has made and continues to make to sustainable resource management around the world.

Seventy-six authors from all corners of the globe contributed to the book.

At its heart is the belief that there is still much to be learned about sustainable forest management from local and indigenous peoples who have, for many generations, managed their forest resources in a sustainable manner – especially in areas of high biodiversity and in developing mitigation strategies to cope with changing climate.

For a variety of reasons, much of this knowledge is being lost and that is something that should not be allowed to happen.

The book’s authors indicate that this knowledge needs to be recognized and that the people who have it need to be brought into the conversation – currently they are often excluded – and respected for what they know. The writers encourage the scientific community to pay more attention to this information and knowledge and, where appropriate, to lend their support.

Knowledge of climate and its vagaries, weather forecasting, observations on plant growth and animal behavior, among other things, have all been of direct and fundamental importance to the livelihoods and wellbeing of these local and indigenous groups.

So, over countless years they have developed approaches for managing biodiversity and coping with changing environmental conditions that most researchers, forest managers and policy makers don’t know about.

The authors believe that some of that knowledge can – and should – inform the future planning of more of our science-based forest management plans and schemes.

The book contains sections dealing with various aspects of traditional knowledge in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Australia-Pacific regions and covers topics such as: key policy issues; ethics; best practices; regional and international programs; and the importance of traditional knowledge for food security, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and cultural identity.

For more information about  please go to: http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-94-007-2143-2

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO member organizations and/or involving IUFRO officeholders to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO will encapsulate, and distribute in plain language, brief, topical and policy-relevant highlights of those findings, along with information on where/how to access the full documents. The IUFRO Spotlight findings will be distributed in a periodic series of emails as well as blog postings.

The findings reported here are submitted by IUFRO Member Organizations. IUFRO is pleased to highlight and circulate these findings to a broad audience but, in doing so, acts only as a conduit. The quality and accuracy of the reports are the responsibility of the member organization and the authors.

Suggestions for reports and findings that could be promoted through IUFRO Spotlight are encouraged. Please send them to: wolfrum(at)iufro.org. To be considered, reports should be fresh, have policy implications and be applicable to more than one country.

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Media Contact

John Parrotta: +1 703 605 4178, jparrotta(at)fs.fed.us
Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org

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Related Links

Information about Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity:
http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-94-007-2143-2

IUFRO Task Force on Traditional Forest Knowledge:
http://www.iufro.org/science/task-forces/traditional-forest-knowledge/

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Photo Credits

Photo 1:  Tapping of resin by local people in Cambodia – Ly Chou Beang & Lao Sethaphal
Photo 2:  House of land God located in the village grove of Seongnam-ri, Shinlim-myeon, Wonju City, South Korea – Youn Yeo-Chang

IUFRO Spotlight #1 – President’s Message

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Forest research matters. All of us under the IUFRO umbrella know that.
Research is what we, in our member organizations, do. It is who we are.

By Niels Elers Koch, President, IUFROIUFRO Spotlight
(Copenhagen University, Denmark)

PDF for download

In addition to increasing our understanding of the world in which we live, there can be – and often are – important policy implications for our research findings. And we know very well that good sustainable forest management decisions can only be made based on sound science.

For that reason, IUFRO is embarking on a new initiative called IUFRO Spotlight to introduce timely, significant forest research findings from our member organizations to a worldwide network of policy makers, other decision makers and researchers.

Brief, topical and policy-relevant highlights of findings from our member organizations, along with information on where/how to access full reports will be distributed by IUFRO through a periodic series of emails as well as blog postings.

These excerpted, plain language articles will give more immediate exposure to our member organizations’ important findings to those who would be in positions to use the information to implement new and improved policies, as well as reaching our more traditional research audience.

IUFRO will act only as a conduit in presenting the findings. Quality and accuracy will be the responsibility of the authors and the member organizations.

The first in the series of IUFRO Spotlights will be coming to you on Wednesday, 23 November 2011. So stay tuned. We look forward to your feedback on the initiative.

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO member organizations and/or involving IUFRO officeholders to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO will encapsulate, and distribute in plain language, brief, topical and policy-relevant highlights of those findings, along with information on where/how to access the full documents. The IUFRO Spotlight findings will be distributed in a periodic series of emails as well as blog postings.

The findings reported here are submitted by IUFRO Member Organizations. IUFRO is pleased to highlight and circulate these findings to a broad audience but, in doing so, acts only as a conduit. The quality and accuracy of the reports are the responsibility of the member organization and the authors.

Suggestions for reports and findings that could be promoted through IUFRO Spotlight are encouraged. Please send them to: wolfrum(at)iufro.org. To be considered, reports should be fresh, have policy implications and be applicable to more than one country.

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Media Contact

Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org

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Related Links

IUFRO Spotlights main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

IUFRO Spotlight #1:  PDF for download

IUFRO - The International Union of Forest Research Organizations