In line with the EU biodiversity and climate objectives, successful proposals will support the protection of biodiversity-rich forest ecosystems, at the species’ distribution rear edges and margins that are at high risk of collapse in light of a rapidly changing climate.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Improved knowledge on the cross-impacts between biodiversity and climate change: drivers of biodiversity loss and the interrelation with forest-based adaptation and mitigation needs; impacts of climate change on forest biodiversity and forest species migration; and links between forest species diversity and forest resilience to climate change.
- Identification of win-win management practices (including non-intervention, climate-smart forestry) and development and implementation of ecosystem protection and restoration methods and tools for resilient, carbon rich and biodiversity supportive forests.
- Better understanding of the drivers and barriers for natural co-migration of forest communities and development of approaches and guidelines to foster co-migration.
- Improved tools and indices for the joint monitoring of biodiversity and climate aspects on forests.
- Empirical analysis of the current forest management and conservation practices in European forests of high ecological value, including governance (regulations and their impact), management responses to climate change and an assessment of drivers that determine management on the ground.
- Strict protection of primary and old-growth forest in Europe by 2030.
Biodiversity-rich forest ecosystems, in particular at the species’ distribution edges, are at a high risk in light of a rapidly changing climate. When not being in their optimal climate conditions, they are more fragile to biotic and abiotic damages and do not provide ecosystem services in an optimal manner.
While for tree species assisted migration and assisted gene flow is considered as a possibly solution in actively managed forests, the dependent forest communities (e.g., plants, fungi, insects, soil microorganisms etc.) might fail to follow the speed of habitat shifts what in turn may result in a loss of biodiversity. In addition, migration failure of mutualistic species (fungi, mycorrhiza) can jeopardize the success of tree migration.
Protected areas without the option for assisted migration, will particularly depend on the larger landscape context for community migration and adaptation, as many of them have not been designed to account for the long-term and large-scale dynamics.
- Set up case studies in European forests or tropical forests; particularly targeting forests of high ecological value, such as primary and old-growth forests, Mediterranean forests, peat swamp forests or mangroves.
- Improve existing or develop new predictive models of biodiversity changes, advance the understanding of species connection with the forest habitat, and analyse to what extent species can survive in a changed and fragmented habitat with a view to establishing protected forest networks.
- Analyse directions of assisted tree migration to maximize dynamic gene conservation (as form of ex situ conservation)
- Assess the risk for biodiversity loss in protected areas and develop protection strategies that consider the larger landscape and regional context to allow for natural species and community migration.
- Develop approaches and guidelines for forest managers and conservationists in a context of forest ecosystem migration and map scenarios of potential forest ecosystem migration routes.
- Connect with relevant institutions at regional, national and EU-level as well as relevant stakeholders to regularly disseminate the research results.
- Improve monitoring techniques, including remote-sensing and field-data methods integrating technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics or blockchain, to better assess biodiversity and climate aspects of forests.
Due to the scope of this topic, international cooperation is strongly encouraged.
The project must implement the multi-actor approach and ensure an adequate involvement of the primary production sector and the wider forest-based value chain.
JRC will contribute with dataset on forest tree species distribution and support the development of satellite monitoring of forest metrics.