In recent years, European forests have suffered greatly from extreme climate conditions and their impacts. Huge parts of Europe’s forests are potentially at risk from perturbations like insect attacks. This is the main result of a study by an international team of scientists with the participation of Henrik Hartmann from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.
Forests cover a good third of Europe’s land mass. They play an important role in regulating the climate and the hydrological cycle. They provide wood, serve as habitat for a wide range of species and as recreational area for human beings. Some scientists even suggest forestation as a measurement to mitigate climate change as forests take up CO2 as long as they grow. Currently, however, rather the contrary happens: In recent decades climate change has considerably damaged forests which have become increasingly vulnerable to disturbances. Forest structure and prevailing climate largely determine how vulnerable forests are to perturbations and vulnerability to insect infestations, especially in northern Europe. The boreal coniferous forests in cold regions and the dry forests of Iberian Peninsula are among the most fragile ecosystems. MORE
Header image: © Olaf Kolle & Henrik Hartmann.