Close-to-nature forestry and intensive forestry – Two response patterns of forestry professionals towards climate change adaptation

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Climate change poses a major challenge for forest management in Europe. Understanding how forestry professionals perceive climate change is critical to inform decision-making on climate change adaptation. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of forestry professionals regarding climate change and its effects on forests, as well as the importance of different forest management strategies for climate change adaptation. Using a survey, to which we received 565 [retained] responses, we determined regional differences in climate change perceptions across nine European countries and six professional groups. We found a North-South gradient in the perceptions of climate change effects for early 2019 – at the time of the survey – and when looking ahead to 2050. Perceptions of climate change effects and views on the possibility to adapt to climate change were particularly negative in Germany.

According to respondents, the most important forest management strategies to adapt to climate change are diversification of tree species, artificial regeneration with improved forest reproductive material, and enrichment of natural regeneration with forest reproductive material better adapted to future climate changes. Two distinct clusters emerged from our analysis on how to adapt forests to climate change: a close-to-nature forestry cluster and an intensive forestry cluster. It appeared that the perception of public forestry regarding climate change effects and the possibility to adapt to climate change was significantly more pessimistic than those of private forestry and the forest industry. Recent extreme summer droughts and exceedances of ecological thresholds have manifested itself in profound changes in the perceptions of climate change by forestry professionals compared to findings of previous surveys in European regions.

This research was an iterative and collaborative effort by several researchers involved in the project Adaptive BREEDING for productive, sustainable and resilient FORESTs under climate change (B4EST). 


Dennis Roitsch, Silvia Abruscato, Marko Lovrić, Marcus Lindner, Christophe Orazio, Georg Winkel. Close-to-nature forestry and intensive forestry – Two response patterns of forestry professionals towards climate change adaptation. Forest Policy and Economics, Volume 154, 2023, 103035.