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Forests and climate change

Forests and climate change: Future strategies for protection and sustainable use



Global warming with a predicted rise in average temperature at an unprecedented speed, leads us to expect definite impacts on forest ecosystems due to their comparatively slow reaction rates and anthropogenic imprint. The change in forest sites resulting from climate change (gradual) and the increase of extreme events such as storms, pest calamities or forest fires (abrupt) can result in habitats that are no longer suitable for certain species. The difficulties are intensified partly by great uncertainties, for example temporal or spatial variations of climate change and its exact nature, the interactions with other human impacts and possible reactions of the ecosystems. This is hardly ever taken into account in current concepts for nature conservation in German forests. 


Firstly, current objectives and reference systems of nature conservation in forests and possible conservation strategies regarding climate change will be analysed and evaluated within the research project. Secondly, recommendations will be made for potential future conservation guidelines.

The Institute of Forest and Environmental Policy works in parallel on the development of future forest conservation policy in Germany concerning the impact of climate change. 


Theories concerning impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems and possible strategies of adaptation will be identified and interpreted by literature research and analysing thematically related projects. Therefore a classification of different categories will be made (e. g. disciplinary background, considered forest ecosystem, possibilities and intensity of intervention).

A socio-scientific survey of forest and nature conservation management about already practised adaptations on the subject of climate change will complete the results. The following evaluation analyses the feasibility of recent forest conservation objectives with a view to the implications of climate change. This is based on a former research project at the Institute of Landscape Management ("Development of ecological criteria for forest management as a fundament for an incentive-based conservation strategy").

The results will be validated by discussion at an international committee of experts. At this point, the potential ability of forests to respond, adaptation and management strategies, as well as reference systems and guidelines of forest conservation will be discussed. In a further step, the guideline discussion will be considered in a wider, international perspective.

In conclusion, recommendations for forest conservation in Germany will be made, which should provide a framework for a range of strategies at regional level. 


MILAD, M., SCHAICH, H., BÜRGI, M. & KONOLD, W. (2011): Climate change and nature conservation in Central European forests: a review of consequences,
concepts and challenges. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 829-843, available online:

MILAD, M., SCHAICH, H. & KONOLD, W. (2012): Anpassungsmaßnahmen an den Klimawandel –- eine Analyse von Vorschlägen aus Forstwirtschaft und Naturschutz. Allgemeine Forst- und Jagdzeitung 183 (9/10): 183-196 (pdf-file, 552 KB)

MILAD, M., STORCH, S. , SCHAICH, H., KONOLD, W. & WINKEL, G. (2012): Wälder und Klimawandel: Künftige Strategien für Schutz und nachhaltige Nutzung. Schriftenreihe Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt, Band 125. Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Bundesamt für Naturschutz,
132 S.

MILAD, M., SCHAICH, H. & KONOLD, W. (2013): How is adaptation to climate change reflected in current practice of forest management and conservation? A case study from Germany. Biodiversity and Conservation 22 (5): 1181-1202, available online: doi:10.1007/s10531-012-0337-8

SCHAICH, H. & MILAD, M. (2013): Forest biodiversity in a changing climate: which logic for conservation strategies? Biodiversity and Conservation 22 (5): 1107-1114, available online: doi: 10.1007/s10531-013-0491-7


International conference “Forest biodiversity in a changing climate - understanding conservation strategies and policies” in Freiburg, 22-23 September 2011

Climate change poses new challenges to biodiversity conservation in forests, the management of forest ecosystems and related policies. Jointly, the Institute for Landscape Management and the Institute for Forest and Environmental Policy will organize a conference on the consequences of climate change for objectives and strategies of biodiversity conservation and the management of forest ecosystems. Therefore, scientists and decision-makers from different disciplines of forest and conservation research are invited to present their research in Freiburg. The conference is sponsored by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and is part of a R&D project on forest conservation and climate change. The deadline for abstract submission is 31 March 2011. The Call for paperscan be downloaded on the conference website.

A Special Issue was published in Biodiversity and Conservation with selected papers of the cobference session I:

Link to the Special Issue

Link to the Editorial of the Special Issue


Presentations Expertworkshop January 2011

MILAD, M. & SCHAICH, H.: Einführung Teilworkshop Landespflege (pdf-Datei, 4,8 MB)

DOBBERTIN, M.: Impulsreferat Reaktionsfähigkeit Waldökosysteme und Anpassungsmöglichkeiten (pdf-Datei, 2,3 MB)

SCHERZINGER, W.: Impulsreferat Waldnaturschutz unter dem Aspekt eines global change(pdf-Datei, 9,8 MB)

WINKEL, G. & STORCH, S.: Einführung Teilworkshop Forst- und Umweltpolitik (pdf-Datei, 4,8 MB)

IBISCH, P.: Impulsreferat Nationale Waldnaturschutzpolitik (pdf-Datei, 10,2 MB)



February 2009 - February 2012


Federal Agency of Nature Conservation (BfN)


Mirjam Milad


Dr. Harald Schaich & Prof. Dr. Werner Konold


Institute of Forest and Environmental Policy; University of Freiburg



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