Steps towards optimised management with forest carbon sinks in Slovenia

At the start of 2022, the Forest for Future project consortium has achieved essential steps that will contribute to the optimised management of forest carbon sinks in Slovenia. Progress was performed in the form of forest development model and scenario creation, elaboration of forest management planning guidelines and policy recommendations, organisation of activities aimed at informing and increasing awareness of large forest estate owners and managers, and dissemination of project results.

by Matevž Konjar, Forest for Future

Published: 14 July 2022

Creation of forest development models and scenarios

Forest development models and scenarios are crucial for understanding the effect of different measures on the amount and sustainability of forest carbon sinks. They were developed by The Department of Forestry (Biotechnical faculty of Ljubljana, University of Ljubljana). The task was completed in march 2022 with the preparation of models and scenarios that predict the effect of various management scenarios on the state of forest carbon sinks in three different beech-fir-spruce forest types in Slovenia. The modeling results have also served as the foundation for creating management recommendations that would optimize existing management practices in Slovenia.

As a part of Output I, the first version of the digital tool was created in cooperation with both project partners. The digital tool is based on the results of modelling and scenario creation. It utilitzes data gathered in forestry databases of the Slovenia Forest Service. The tool offers forest management planners an overview of past forest carbons sink developement trends. It also offers support in the process of decision making, as it enables forest management planners the selection of future measures that will ensure coordinated achievement of all forest management goals including optimised management with forest carbons sinks.

Slovanian forest © Matevž Konjar

Forest management planning guidelines and policy recommendations

Forest management planning guidelines elaborate measures that will contribute to better mitigation and adaptation to climate change in Slovenian forests. They are based on the results of modeling and other existing scientific developments. Guidelines have already been implemented in the regional forest management plans for 2021-2030. Regional forest management plans are a strategic foundation for creation of management unit forest management plans. They elaborate concrete measures that need to be taken in order to achieve all forest management goals including mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

To ensure structured and sufficient integration of proposed measures into practice a list of policy adaptations has been compiled. The list includes a set of legislative, organisational, and financial adaptations that require implementation into Slovenia’s existing forest management system. To identify the main challenges that need to be addressed, analysis of the existing legislative backgrounds, financial mechanisms and best practice examples has been performed. Results of situation analysis have been combined with results of survey in which 34 of the leading national forestry and environmental experts expressed their perspectives on the challenges and potentials for the optimisation of forest management regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation. The proposals for management optimisation and policy recommendations were gathered in the document draft that was later presented and further amended at the national training workshop that was held on 18th May 2022 in Mašun, Slovenia. During the workshop, representatives of 10 different public and private institutions and ministries have reviewed the proposals. They offered additional inputs and comments that were later included in the document.

National training workshop that was held in Mašun, Slovenia © Matevž Konjar

Communication and networking with large forest estate owners and managers

In the process of communication and awareness-raising of owners and managers of large forest estates, the project consortium continued organisation of meetings. The aim was to inform owners about the importance of active management as a key tool for climate action. They got an opportunity to present their experiences with forest management as well as examples of good practices and new business opportunities, which they believe will contribute to achieving the goals of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, development of circular economy, preservation of biodiversity, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Feedback provided by forest owners and managers was considered in the process of preparing policy recommendations. They were also invited to participate in national training in Mašun, Slovenia.

Awareness raising and dissemination

In the recent period, different activities were performed aiming to raise awareness of various groups about the importance of active forest management as a tool for achieving a goal related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

In cooperation with the BIO4ECO project, the Forests for Future project consortium organised an international conference that was held on 31th March in Slovenia. At the conference, participants from 6 countries presented examples of various political and technological solutions (use of renewable forest biomass, implementation of new digital tools into the process of forest management, etc.) that have the potential to contribute to climate transformation and development of the circular economy.

The concept of climate action and the role of forests in the process of mitigation and adaptation to climate change was also presented to preschool and school children as a part of the event “Forest, water, mill” (Slovenian – “Gozd, voda, mlinček”) that was organized on 25th May 2022 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Slovenia Forest Service traditionally organises the event as a part of Forest week. This year 829 children had the chance to explore the causes and basic principles of the greenhouse effect (global warming) and the response of tree rings to fluctuations in environmental factors. They also got seeds of European silver fir (Abies alba) that they could seed and nurture at home.

On 10th June 2022, the project consortium, in cooperation with the Austrian forestry society (German – Österreichischer Forstverein) organised a field excursion in Trenta, Soča valley. The excursion was organised as a part of the Austrian forestry days 2022 (German – Österreichische Forsttagung 2022). On the excursion, participants were introduced to Slovenian forest management practices and projects that Slovenia Forest Service is participating in and are aimed at developing new management approaches and policies for mitigation and adaptation to climate action(Forests for Future, DINALPCONNECT, RockTheAlps, GreenRisk4Alps).

The project consortium has, in collaboration with projects LIFE Systemic and BIO4ECO, prepared media champagne posted on different social media channels to inform the broader public about the importance of active forest management as a tool for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Published content was stored on public profiles of Slovenia Forest Service and will be permanently accessible.

Preschool and school children at the event “Forest, water, mill” in Ljubljana, Slovenia © Matevž Konjar

Future goals

In the coming period, the project consortium will perform fifteen training workshops where the following topics will be presented:

  • presentation of basic concepts and definitions,
  • the forest management planning guidelines for mitigation and adaptation to climate change,
  • the forest development models and scenarios,
  • the digital tool – training of its usage,
  • policy recommendations.

The first workshop will be dedicated to the leading staff of the Slovenia Forest Service and some national decision-makers. The other 14 workshops will be devoted to forest management planners and heads of local foresters at all fourteen regional units of Slovenia Forest Service.

Presenting the project in the forest © Matevž Konjar

Several scientific and professional articles are being prepared for publishing in international and domestic journals dedicated to forestry. As a collaboration between projects, we will actively attend a summer school as part of the LIFE IP CARE4CLIMATE project. We are preparing a project presentation for the annual EUKI conference and the IUFRO international symposium.

As we realized within the implementation of the Forests for Future project, it is necessary to actively raise awareness of both professionals and the general public to understand the issue. We will continue to raise general awareness of the importance of forests for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

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