Forests provide Europe’s societies with a broad spectrum of essential ecosystem services. They are the source of one of Europe’s most valuable renewable resources, wood. At the same time, they are a decisive base for biodiversity, provide crucial protective functions for societies, and are a critically important green infrastructure for recreation and climate regulation – also in urban areas. Yet, forests are affected by three main forest risk complexes: (i) droughts and forest fires, (ii) storms, and (iii) biotic threats. Some of these are considered ‘natural’, but more and more are influenced by human activities.

Bark Beetle
Bark beetle damages

As forest disturbance regimes have intensified during the last decades, forest resilience has gained more importance. Catastrophic disturbance events, such as the storms Lothar and Gudrun or Megafires in Greece in 2007 or in Portugal in 2017, affected whole landscapes and their habitats. Negative effects can range from profound impacts on wood production to a decreasing value of the forest landscapes for recreation and tourism. Furthermore, wildfires, storms, outbreaks of pests and diseases, droughts and floods are also becoming more prevalent, which is especially problematic in regions where experience and knowledge of dealing with those risks are less developed. Yet, evidence is increasing that climate change is exacerbating disturbance impacts.

This development necessitates a structured transnational science-policy-practice dialogue, provided by the project SUstaining and Enhancing REsilience of European Forests (SURE) and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). SURE is aiming at enhancing forest resilience and addressing disturbance related risks as an integral part of sustainable forest management through facilitating a set of networking, learning and capacity building activities.

Storm Sumava
Storm damages in Sumava

SURE has three main working objectives

  1. To produce systematic cross-disciplinary scientific assessments to support both practical management and policy development to enhance the resilience of European forests. This includes the analysis of existing experiences; lessons learned and best practice cases for enhancing resilience and efficient risk management as well as information on how to reduce harmful impacts of disturbances.
  2. To facilitate international networking of practitioners, scientists and policy makers concerned with forest risks, their prevention and risk responses and to enhance their capacities to mitigate and manage forest related risks and to increase forest resilience. This includes networking activities and events as well as fast track sharing of experiences and knowledge during forest related risks.
  3. To synthesize both practical experience and scientific knowledge into practical guidelines and policy recommendations, and to conduct targeted communication and dissemination activities that internationally communicate knowledge and experiences related to forest resilience, forest risk mitigation and forest risk management for specific target groups.