• 'Forests under threat from climate change'
    forest fires could become more commonplace as global temperatures increase

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'Forests under threat from climate change'

Aug 06 2014

Issues that affect forests - such as bark beetles, wildfires and strong winds - are causing more damage than ever before due to the onset of climate change. This is according to new research that suggests Europe's forests are at an increased risk as these types of disturbances have become more commonplace over the last 40 years. This rise in damaging events is expected to continue as the effects of global warming are more keenly felt.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that forests may continue to be damaged if future scenarios for climate change come to pass. This means that it could lead to concerns over usable timber supplies across the next two decades. To combat this, the study's authors suggest that there needs to be more of a focus on forest policy and management.

Senior author of the study, Rupert Seidl, from the University of Natural resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, said: “Disturbances like windthrow and forest fires are part of the natural dynamics of forest ecosystems, and are not, therefore, a catastrophe for the ecosystem as such.

“However, these disturbances have intensified considerably in recent decades, which increasingly challenges the sustainable management of forest ecosystems.”

Researchers looked at 29 forests across several European countries and discovered that different damaging events are expected to become more commonplace in a number of the countries. For example, forests in Iberia are expected to experience a rise in wildfires due to increasing temperatures and limit rainfall; both of which are a direct result of climate change.

These findings tie in with other recent studies that show the Amazon rainforest is becoming more and more vulnerable to damaging events like forest fires as a result of rising global temperatures and an increase in deforestation. It is thought that heatwaves will be more commonplace around the world by the year 2040.  


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