Towards Climate-Smart Alpine Forests

The Road to COP26 - Conference

Storm Vaia – 2018 (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites)

The Alps, a huge geological belt, crossing Europe, define and regulate the climate beyond its confines, enclosing great geophysical diversity of rock formations, glaciers and watersheds, which divide North/Central Europe from the Mediterranean/North Africa.

Infinite biodiversity has evolved across these mountains, building up a complex genetic library, performing key regulating and maintenance ecosystem services such as preventing soil erosion, regulating water flows, storing carbon, providing  habitats for rare species, yet climate change now poses a critical threat to this complex system.

Violent storms, such as Vaia in 2018, have become more frequent, threatening the physical stability of forests, while rising temperatures and drought increase their vulnerability to pests.

Experts from leading institutions, across two thematic roundtables, debated on cutting-edge forestry management and scientific research, and then on how the pricing of ecosystem services and innovative technologies can all contribute to increasing the adaptation and resilience of mountain forests.The event was organised in two main parts, as follows:

Towards sustainable management of forests and their soils

Part 1 of the event addressed the challenges facing the growth of resilient and climate-smart Alpine forests from extreme climate events, such as the storm Vaia, and from pests, on Alpine environments both above and below ground.

Forest practitioners from Land Tirol’s Forestry Department described innovative forest management initiatives, in order to enhance forest stability and protect local mountain communities and their economic livelihoods.

Environmental services and Policy and Technological Perspectives

Part 2 explored the complexities and trade-offs of sustaining ecosystems services from forest management and EU policy perspectives as well as the opportunities and solutions provided by digital and remote sensing technologies.

Leveraging public programmes, such as the EU’s Green Deal Package and its new biodiversity and forestry policies will be key.

About JSC Mountain

JSC Mountain is a project conceived for Pre-COP26, the preparatory meeting for the Glasgow 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, addressing core issues arising from the impact of climate change on the resilience of mountain woodlands and the sustainability of mountain forestry.

Together with the British Embassy in Italy and Land Tirol, JSC Mountain organised the “Towards Climate-Smart Alpine forests” Conference, at the UK Pre-COP26 House, on 30 September in Milan.

Roundtable panellists

Christian Annewanter, Land Tirol; Aurora Bozzini, University of Padova; Harald Bugmann, ETH Zürich; Colin Campbell, James Hutton Institute; Laurent Clergue, Atos; Michele Da Pozzo, Ampezzo Dolomites Natural Park; Giacomo Grassi, EU Joint Research Centre; Frank Hagedorn, WSL Birmensdorf; Emanuele Lingua, Univerity of Padova; Lucia Luzietti, e-Geos; Sigrid Netherer, BOKU Vienna; Marco Onida, EU Commission; Gernot Paulus, FH Kärnten; Aleš Poljanec, Slovenia Forest Service; Chris Pollard, Forest Research (UK); Rosalaura Romeo, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, FAO; Mathias Rothach, Innsbruck University; Martin Schebeck, BOKU Vienna; Hannes Schuler, Freie Universität Bozen; Ana Stritih, ETH Zürich; Giorgio Vacchiano, University of Milan; Borout Vrščaj, KIS Lubiana; Kurt Ziegner, Land Tirol.