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Nature-based management of Beech in Europe - A multifunctional approach to forestry

The purpose of Nat-Man is to help resolve the challenge of sustainable forest management (SFM). The subject of the project is European beech forests, which represent a large resource for timber production, biodiversity conservation and recreation. The project delivers scientifically founded policy recommendations and management guidelines for SFM, based on the scientific axiom that nature-based management is a powerful tool in achieving SFM. The scientific work behind these deliverables ranges from natural forests as a reference point, through a detailed scientific comparison of a natural and managed forest, to biological and economical modelling.

Improved beech management will make a major contribution to the multifunctional utilisation of European forest resources (Key Action 5.3).
The project has five specific aims:
1) the establishment of a reference point for the management of beech forest across Europe
2) support for the development of criteria and indicators for SFM in beech forests
3) the establishment of an interdisciplinary east-west European beech research/end-user team
4) the economic and biological evaluation of nature-based beech forestry
5) the formulation of management guidelines and policy recommendations.

Progress to Date
The scientific programme is structured around 14 work packages, which are derived from five important topics, the Nat-Man chain:
1) the first link defines a natural reference point for beech forest management. Studies of past forest composition by palaeoecological methods are combined with studies of present day remnants of natural forests along a NW-SE climatic gradient across Europe (Key Topic 1).
2) the second link produces the scientific base for using the natural forest as a reference for management, focusing on the gap-phase (Key Topic 2), and the coarse woody debris (CWD, Key Topic 3). Both represent potential management tools for balancing commercial interests with the maintenance of biodiversity and are of key relevance for the development of criteria and indicators for SFM. The output from Key Topics 1, 2 and 3 will be used in Key Topic 4, in which biological and economical modelling is used to balance commercial, conservation and social interests.
3) the third link of the chain turns research results into practice. In Key Topic 5, results from the previous key topics are translated into workshops, demonstrations, website, guidelines, recommendations, books and publications.

The project has made good progress at the scientific level. The literature reviews and palaeoecological studies under the first link were finalised and reported. The fieldwork under the second link was finalised during the third reporting period. The modelling components of the project have progressed according to the working plans and are now turning into the phase of synthesis under the third link. This progress represents the scientific base for the last working year, where the project results have to be synthesised and turned into practice through publication and other dissemination activities. The preparation of the other big synthesis component of the Nat-Man project, namely the Beech Review Book (Work Package 12), has also begun. The publication plan and contract with CABI International Publishers will be ready for signing by the end of the third year. The work plan is progressing according to schedule, with only minor delays having been encountered.

The main achievement of the first reporting period was the establishment of the network to deal with internal communications, strategic decision-making, quality assurance assessments, and external dissemination and liaison.
The key achievements of the third reporting period were the finalisation of the fieldwork and the considerable progress made on the analysis and reporting of Work Packages 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. Work Package 5 was completed during this period, and hard work and progress was made on the modelling work of Work Packages 8, 9 and 10. The synthesis work of Work Package 13 (scenario analysis) has been prepared, and the production of the manuscript for a beech reference book (Work Package 12) has begun, with the contract with the publisher ready to be signed.


Scientist responsible for the project

Rolighedsvej 23
1958 Frederiksberg
Denmark - DK

Phone: +45 3528 2278
Fax: +45 3528 2671


Project ID QLRT-1999-01349
Organisation The Royal Veterinary & Agricultural University
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 February 2000
Duration (months) 48
Total cost 2 402 100 €
Total EC contribution   1 761 431 €
Status Completed

The partners

  • Danish Forest and Landscape Research Institute, Denmark - DK
  • The Royal Veterinary & Agricultural University, Denmark - DK
  • Research Institute for Soil Science and Agriculture, Hungary - HU

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