Written by Alexander Held (EFI)

Photos by Alexander Held and Stephanie Hayes (EFI)

Triggered by a severe storm event in 2016, the World Bank – with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) – approached the EFI European Forest Risk Facility to arrange this “Exchange of Experts”.

The Forest Risk Facility then activated the storm experts within the network, namely regions that were affected by storms “Vivien”, “Wiebke” and “Lothar” (Germany) and storms “Martin” and “Klaus” (France).

In April 2018, we were pleased to finally receive 14 guests from the Belorussian forestry sector to share expertise and exchange an immense amount of information between Germany , France and Belarus!

We started in the Black Forest, where we were hosted by the Forest Research Institute of Baden-Wuerttemberg FVA. Their forest risk network KonnektiW serves as the regional node of the Forest Risk Facility.

After 2.5 intensive days with a storm risk management workshop, Ash Dieback, Bark Beetle, Storm management, timber storage, deer management, invasive species and a lot more forestry-related topics from the Rhine River up to the high altitudes of the Black Forest, the group moved on to the Landes Massif in Nouvelle Aquitaine, France! Nouvelle Aquitaine….1 million ha of maritime pine plantations! Wow!

We were received by the team of EFI’s Planted Forests Facility (EFIPLANT) with a great programme! Again, we started indoors with a comprehensive introduction on the forestry system in Nouvelle Aquitaine and the massive storm events in 1999 and 2009, namely storms Martin and Klaus. The plantation context there was very different from the mixed mountain forest in the Black Forest and all discussed topics had therefore of course a new perspective.

The seminar session continued with presentations of different representatives of the forestry sector in Nouvelle Aquitaine about dealing with wind damage to forest and public risk management coordination, from the different perspectives of private and public forest managers and regional forest authorities.

In addition to the French and Belorussian experts, a group of forest experts from the Basque Country, Spain joined the expert exchange to present how similar forest risks are managed on their forests. Their attendance formed part of the PLURIFOR project aiming at sharing experiences and innovation to improve transboundary risk management plans. All this provided for much food for thought and truly intensive discussions!

On the second day, we were taken out to visit young maritime pine stands with different types of plantation management, a wet timber storage site established after the blown down events, a sawmill and a seedling nursery to gain an insight into how forest owners, associations, administrations and industry coped and are still coping after Storm Klaus!

This Exchange of Experts was facilitated by the European Forest Risk Facility and hosted and organised by the EFI Resilience Programme, in collaboration with the EFI Planted Forests Facility and the PLURIFOR project. It was supported by the World Bank and financed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

Alexander Held is a forest fire expert working on the EFI Resilience Programme.