Introduction to the project

During recent centuries Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.) was often favored in forest restoration activities in many Central, Northern and Eastern European countries; it was easy to establish and manage, had fast growth rates and was expected to provide high economic returns. Today, the range of Norway spruce dominated forests is largely determined by former management practices rather than by natural factors. While in Northwest Russia most of Norway spruce occurs within its natural range, in Western Ukraine and even more in Southwest Germany it reaches far beyond its assumed range. Due to environmental changes and changes in management aims, forest tree species composition is already changing. These changes will have an impact on wood production as well as on carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and resistance against storm, snow, drought, fires, insects and fungi. Associated compositional, structural and functional changes of forests will affect almost all goods and services provided by forests including secondary effects on income of forest owners and on the climate change mitigation potential of these forests.

In Central and Eastern Europe Norway spruce is currently facing unprecedented severe threats by multiple abiotic and biotic stressors. The current forest health crisis points to the low resilience and adaptability of Norway spruce to climate change, and underpins its vulnerability to climate warming, hence, giving reason to question the size of the climate change mitigation potential of the future forests.

Mid-term climate-sensitive scenarios will be developed and will provide forecasts of spruce wood supply, with particular emphasis on the transition to a carbon-neutral, green economy. The expected results will be unique and timely information on future availability of Norway spruce wood (particularly timber). This information will be of high relevance for the forestry-wood sector and for the policy development towards transition to green economy in Europe.

Adaptation of project aims

Due to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, we unfortunately had to adjust our project goals. Due to the suspension of the Russian partner institution, we will focus on the remaining partner regions (Western Ukraine and Southwestern Germany) in the future. During the first project year, the project area of Northwest Russia was also considered. The focus was on the past development and current status of spruce (work package 1 ).

The further project results will therefore not be able to draw a comparison between the future of temperate forests of Western Ukraine and Southwestern Germany and the development of the boreal forests of Northwestern Russia.

Date: 17.08.2022