Comments Netherlands on draft European Forest report

Comments of The Netherlands on the draft report 'European forests - ecosystem conditions
and sustainable use', by Van Brusselen et al.
- The authors have done a very good job. They give a comprehensive overview of the state of
forest diversity, sometimes trends, how it is affected by mankind, and what actions are being
taken to halt the loss of diversity. Their job was even more difficult if you take into account
the huge diversity in European forests, the many different countries with different data
quality, and the probably limited time they had.
- The set up of the report is quite ok, although I see overlap between chapter 2 and 3. Items like
reserves and dead wood seem to be coming back several times.
- The typology in section 2.3 is hardly used further down the report, doesn't seem necessary.
Although the typology as such is well developed and accepted, it only ends with a
comparison with another typology on page 75.
- Wouldn't a biodiversity hotspot map exist for Europe? Couldn't that be used as a basis
sometimes instead of the classification?
- MAIN comment: the authors seem to avoid a critical look at the situation of European forests:
European forests are young, far from the natural state, with declining birds and understory
species, fragmentation, ongoing acidification, forest fires, often singe species stands, urban
sprawl, only about 6 million ha of forest with minimal intervention (fig 28), fragmented
ownership, 31 different countries with different databases and inventories; How much worse
can it get !!!???? Yes, there are some trends hinting in right direction: forest mngt is changing
towards nature orientation, a small increase in reserves, Natura2000 in development. But
overall, the situation is very bleak from biodiversity point of view. I think the authors could
give such a critical summary, based on the material. Table 10 is too vague now I think.
- Generally the report has a bias to north, Atlantic, continental/central European region. This is
understandable from the data availability point of view, but not from the biodiversity point of
view: the Balkan is THE hotspot for biodiversity in forests in Europe. This seems to be totally
ignored. Authors could try an additional effort for this region
- Authors ignore that there is deforestation in Europe. Although area statistics do not show the
deforestation, because they only report the net change in forest, the BIOPRESS project has
shown that deforestation certainly occurs throughout Europe, but is often compensated by
afforestation elsewhere. Thus the gross changes are important, because they lead to
degradation. see
- A large share of forests in Europe consists of coppice and outgrowing coppice. I would expect
some attention for this type
- p40; one statement on the role of carbon sink seems very meagre, given the worldwide
attention this receives. I know that until now this carbon sink function hasn't had any impact
on management so far, but it could in the future. So in chapter 4, it could find a place in terms
of combining mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
- Conclusion of ch 4: yes there is a lot of international collaboration and negotiation; but how
much has it really achieved, and where could all this be turned into more concrete results.
That would be interesting. Could they take a more critical look into these international fora?
- p 39, last paragraph: authors are very positive about the role of the forest sector. In fact it is a
very small sector; even in large forest countries, less than 5% of the workforce is employed in
this sector. In all of Europe its role is less than 3% of total GDP.
- p 41 first paragraph: the only statement on economic changes in CEC region. Could this be
highlighted more, on what its impacts may be through privatisation, increased consumption?
- Authors may want to use results from ATEAM project on their vulnerability concept. See
also Schroter et al. in Science.
- p 58, authors state that wildlife are largest disturbance (fig 23). This is not so according to
Schelhaas et al. 2003 Gl Ch Biology 9: 1620-. They state that 53% of all disturbance volume
is caused by storms.
- Ref list is not complete
- Some figures can be improved e.g. fig 16
- In relation to my main comment above, I think the section 5.2 is very weak, and should be
Gert-Jan Nabuurs
Alterra WUR
[email protected]
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