What Science Can Tell Us 9

Author
Heinrich Spiecker, Marcus Lindner, Johanna Schuler (editors)

It is expected that European forests provide renewable resources for the bioeconomy, ensure biodiversity and other ecosystem services while help us to mitigate and adapt to and mitigate climate change. To set the course for the future, European forest policies must find a balance between supporting a fast-growing but non-native tree species with not yet fully understood consequences for native ecosystems and, on the other hand, promoting native tree species but thereby likely missing opportunities for increasing future sustainable construction wood supply.

“In the book we aim at describing the state of knowledge available in an objective, comprehensive and science-based way”, says Prof Heinrich Spiecker (Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany).

In western North America, Douglas-fir covers an area of almost 20 million hectares across a huge climatic range that generally features rather dry summers. In Europe, Douglas-fir has been introduced as an ornamental tree in arboreta and parks since 1827. From the end of the 19th century it was planted at a progressive rate in the forests of various European countries, especially after the second world war. This has led to the current relatively high representation of trees up to an age of 60 years.

Today Douglas-fir is the second most common non-native tree species in European forests where it covers more than 800,000 hectares. The largest area of Douglas-fir is found in France, followed by Germany where it has rapidly become the most widespread non-native tree species.

The main reason for growing Douglas-fir is its high productivity and desirable wood properties. The value chain of Douglas-fir provides thousands of jobs and tens of millions of euros worth of income and employment. Today, other factors have to be considered as well. These may be positive, such as Douglas-fir’s capacity to adapt and mitigate to climate change, or negative, such as public perceptions concerning detrimental effects on native ecosystems and their biodiversity.

The newly published report provides science-based support for decision-making by synthesizing relevant research results on various aspects of growing non-native tree species in Europe using Douglas-fir as an example.

More information

“Douglas-fir – an option for Europe” has been published by the European Forest Institute in the What Science Can Tell Us- series. The publication is based upon work from COST Action FP1403 NNEXT, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology).

Recommended citation
Spiecker, H., Lindner, M. and Schuler, J. (eds.). 2019. Douglas-fir – an option for Europe. EFI What Science Can Tell Us 9. European Forest Institute.

Number of pages 121

ISBN 978-952-5980-65-3 (printed)
ISBN 978-952-5980-66-0 (pdf)