Czech forestry is changing. We have to respect nature, says an expert.
9. 6. 2021 -
Due to climatic change, Czech forestry is also changing. Spruce and other monocultures, as well as trees of the same age in long and uncluttered rows will be replaced by a so-called family order in the future. Foresters will grow trees of all age-phases in smaller groups, from the youngest to the oldest family members.
Trees growing in this way, in mixed stands, are not so competitive, they grow better and are much stronger. If the bark beetle, or any other calamity attacks e.g. adult trees, younger trees next to them will survive and replace them in the future. Therefore, large clearings will not appear.
For more than 200 years, Czech forests have been grown in a system of age-categories. „This means that, just like in schools, where the classes are filled with students of the same age, and the oldest ones leave, so too in the forests are the older age-category trees replaced by younger ones, or rather by newly planted trees”, says the head of the Department for Development and Pedagogy of the School Forestry Enterprise – Masaryk Forest in Křtiny, Lumír Dobrovolný. This artificially established cycle should guarantee constant production of wood in the forests. Nevertheless, forests grown in this way are more prone to disturbance. With various influences, such as climate, wind, frost, bark-beetles etc. foresters always had to cope, for better or worse, in the past. In recent years another factor has gained significance “Extreme drought, which we have seen in recent years is among the reasons why large-scale forests of mainly coniferous trees of the same-age have been disappearing”, says Dobrovolný. In his opinion, new forests will have to vary not only in species, but also in age. The growing procedures needed to achieve this are well known from the history of forestry, and there is no need to develop anything new.
“The main and fundamental renaissance has to occur in our minds. We have to stop forcing forests to grow in dysfunctional age groups and stop creating deliberate clearings. We have to approach forests as a living societies, where every tree or every square meter is unique. It is always necessary to individually evaluate the function of each member of this society, i.e. when felling, use selection principles in accordance with the specific conditions and needs of the forest”, says the expert.
Foresters, and people in general, have to realise that nature is not an opponent, but a partner, i.e. learn how to make better use of natural forces in a more open approach to forest management, and to a certain extent, allow a little natural “chaos” to occur. “This does not mean stopping forest management, not harvesting the wood or in any way giving up the economics. On the contrary, in near-natural forests with a high level of natural rejuvenation, we save costs on growing, we increase the gain in the most valuable trees, so we produce better quality wood and the forest becomes stronger”, says Dobrovolný. A certain deviation from the customary perception of forests will also have to be accepted by the general public. Diverse forests with rich undergrowth and wood left lying (branches, parts of trees, etc.) e.g. after tree felling, forests may be more cluttered and less accessible in comparison with coniferous monoculture. Nevertheless, they will be green and they will provide everything that makes them attractive to us, including the production of wood as a renewable raw material
“The main challenge for current and future generations of foresters will be to introduce models of economic management enabling the forests to adapt to climatic change”, says Dobrovolný. Along with his colleagues from Mendel University in Brno, he is focusing on these economic approaches to forestry in a project “Creation of an Adaptation Strategy for the Forests of Mendel University” supported by the State Environment Fund, CZ within the programme “Environment, Ecosystems and Climate Change” – Norway funds 2014-2021.
MENDELU forests, administrated by the School Forestry Enterprise - Masaryk Forest Křtiny (SFE), have set the goal of being a model property by introducing forestry adaptation measures. In MENDELU university forests, interesting examples can be seen even now. For example, a unique demonstration site at Klepačov u Blanska, where selective principals have been exercised over an area of 14 hectares for more than 50 years. “It used to be a lesser-known example for students, but now it has become an inspiration for many Czech foresters, who are thinking about how to manage their land in a better way and in accordance with nature”, adds Dobrovolný.
The forest at Křtiny SFE was historically established and grown as mixed forest with a high proportion of natural renovation, which, in a time of climatic change and the subsequent bark beetle calamity, has proven to be a definite advantage. No large-scale clearings appear, with the need for reforestation. The proportion of deciduous trees is around 65 % (of which 33 % beech), while coniferous trees make up 35 % (of which 19 % spruce).
Contact person for more information: Ing. Lumír Dobrovolný, Ph.D., head of Department for Development and Pedagogy of the SFE in Křtiny, tel.: 731 623 185, firstname.lastname@example.org