Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones will be announcing a package of measures that will be helping Europe’s forests tackle climate change at a major international conference in Cardiff later this month.
Climate change experts from seven regions are converging on the Welsh capital as the first findings from FUTUREforest, an inter-regional project looking at climate change and the key role trees and forests can play, will be revealed by the Minister.
Elin Jones will also be making public for the first time a raft of new documents detailing some of the best climate change mitigation and adaptation measures from across Europe – practical answers to the practical problems forests are facing worldwide.
The team of experts from the EU INTERREG IVC and Welsh Assembly Government sponsored project are set on making a seismic shift in the thinking on climate – and showing how the challenges provide fantastic opportunities for forests.
They believe that by working together they have found exciting new ways in which forests can be transformed to help combat that change and adapt to it.
Increasingly severe weather conditions are already beginning to make an impact with more flooding, drought, soil erosion, fire and higher temperatures.
And at the project’s second international conference ‘FUTUREforest – helping Europe meet the challenge of Climate Change’ at the Pierhead, Cardiff, the team will be previewing what could be the one of the most influential documents on climate change and forest management this year.
They have brought together all the latest thinking on water management, natural risk control, timber production, carbon sequestration, soil protection and biodiversity on best practice based on their shared knowledge.
The draft report, they believe, will help show policy-makers and politicians the massive benefits regional and national Governments can gain by looking afresh at their forest resource.
The focus for the Welsh team’s project manager from Forestry Commission Wales, Dr Helen Cariss, is on water management.
"It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across Wales are at risk from flooding – but trees and woodlands could help reduce that risk," she said.
Forestry Commission Wales, which sponsors FUTUREforest in Wales, is developing exciting new ways in which the nation’s forests can help reduce downstream flooding.
Woody debris dams, new woodland creation and other flood risk management in the uplands can help reduce the kind of flooding that has caused millions of pounds worth of damage across Wales and across Europe.
Meanwhile members from the other partner regions are specialising in other areas - Auvergne, France (biodiversity); Brandenburg, Germany (knowledge transfer); Bulgaria (soil protection); Catalonia (natural risks); Latvia (timber production); Slovakia (carbon sequestration).
"There is some really exciting work going on across all the regions, and it will all be brought together for the first time in draft form at Cardiff in November," said Helen.
"Learning from other regions, many of which have similar problems to ourselves, helps us to short cut costly research and also to identify new methods of best practice," she said.
The FUTUREForest second international conference ‘FUTUREforest – helping Europe meet the challenge of Climate Change’ will be held at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, on 18 November.
Helen Cariss, FUTUREforest, Wales project manager – Tel: 0300 068 0087
Guy Pargeter, Taliesin Communications – Tel: 01970 832375
NOTES TO EDITORS
FUTUREforest is a three year INTERREG IVC programme funded by the EU and the Welsh Assembly government. It aims to identify the threats, weaknesses and strengths of Europe’s forest as they face up to climate change; developing best management techniques to guide policy makers and stakeholders.
It also aims to improve and adapt regional and local forest management policies and practices focusing on water balance, soil, biodiversity, timber and non-timber forest products, air quality including carbon sequestration, and natural risk like fires, pests and pathogens.
The objective is to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies and contribute to the economic modernisation and increased competitiveness of Europe through exchange, sharing and transfer of policy experience, knowledge and good practices in woodland management.
The project will provide political decision makers and other stakeholders in European regions with the knowledge, tools and approaches to enable effective forestry/regional development policies and forest management practices.
It also intends to identify opportunities resulting from climate change including increased biomass production - and therefore carbon sequestration - due to changes in rainfall pattern and higher temperatures.
The partners include Auvergne, France (biodiversity); Brandenburg, Germany (knowledge transfer); Bulgaria (soil protection); Catalonia (natural risks); Latvia (timber production); Slovakia (carbon sequestration)
Forestry Commission Wales is responsible for FUTUREforest in Wales. About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government. Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf. More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales