Putting climate change data in the hands of forest managers

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Forest stand analysis

Forest owners and forestry managers in the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park are testing a new mobile application which will help foresters plan forest management based on future climate changes. Once released, the “FORECCAsT by BioClimSol” app from LIFE FORECCAsT will be available for any forest managers and trained private forest owners who want to adapt their forest to climate change.

Climate change poses an unprecedented challenge to Europe's forests. It is causing more fragile forest ecosystems, changing biodiversity and forest dynamics, shifting where tree species are found and producing water stress and more frequent outbreaks of pest and disease which take advantage of weakened trees. Forest managers need to adapt their management practices accordingly, to consider which species to plant, which management procedure to follow, and so on. And to do this, they need data on tree dieback, soil conditions and past and predictive climate models.

LIFE FORECCAST is an example of LIFE projects helping the forestry sector to adapt to climate changes stresses on forests. More examples of forestry and agricultural adaptation projects are presented in the latest LIFE publication Ready, steady, green! [pdf].

Digital field assistant

The “FORECCAsT by BioClimSol” mobile application was conceived as a field-based geolocation tool. It performs a complete diagnosis of forest stands and supports foresters to design management strategies for existing forest stands or reforestation projects. It will benefit both those who want to produce wood and organisations working on habitat conservation.

The project is based in the Haut-Languedoc region of southern France. Forests cover two-thirds of the area, so this makes sustainable management of this precious natural resource particularly critical.

In developing the application, researchers from the Centre national de la propriété forestière (CNPF) – France’s national forest ownership centre – incorporated various databases, including:

  • past data from a hybrid model which combines previous temperature and precipitation from Météo France with solar radiation levels from the multi-partner Digitalis tool;
  • future predictive data from Méteo France.

Other data is gleaned from many other sources including in situ soil sampling of 100 soil pits, tree species’ natural distribution areas, topography and natural habitat data from Natura 2000 sites. All this information is aggregated and made available via the app.

Large-scale data gathering is needed to characterise precisely the tree dieback, incorporating the largest number of species with the fewest number of climate variables possible.

User testing

Juliane Casquet, LIFE project manager from the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park, explained the rationale behind the development.

“There are many tools that can give you information about which species to plant or which management procedures to use considering the current conditions. But very few will give you this information while taking into account the climate to come (+1°C or +2°C). And, in most cases, they are not very easy to use and require support from an expert.”

“Since usability is critical to the tool’s success, we’re currently testing it with local forest managers. We will take into account their opinion about it for the later versions”, she added.

Detailed analysis of BioClimSol's development

National roll-out

Once forest workers have been trained, they will receive a three-year free license so they can use it in their daily work. At the end of the project in 2020-21, the CNPF will release the app nationally.

Global action

LIFE support for climate adaptation takes place on the global backdrop of other coordinated activity. Top of this is the UN Climate Summit which is taking place during the week of 23 September 2019. Sustainable agriculture and management of forests is one of the ways the summit sees is critical to achieve full transformation of the world’s economies in line with sustainable development goals.

Other resources

Ready, steady, green! LIFE helps farming and forestry adapt to climate change [pdf]

Image: Forest stand analysis - Juliane Casquet, Parc naturel régional du Haut-Languedoc © LIFE15 CCA/FR/000021. All rights reserved. Licenced to the European Union under conditions

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