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Forestry professionals’ perceptions of climate change, impacts and adaptation strategies for forests in south-west Germany

Abstract

Forestry professionals’ perceptions of the risks and uncertainties associated with climate change were investigated in a questionnaire survey in south-west Germany. The respondents were employed in forestry in either public or private forests or working for state authorities. They were specifically asked about the related impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems, adaptive forest management and the potential of forestry to mitigate climate change. A factor analysis of the responses revealed significant variables explaining the major part of the variance and the key variable groups were identified in a canonical analysis. The majority of respondents (72 %) said they were under-informed, but most (83 %) view climate change as a reality, human-caused, and a significant risk. These forestry professionals were particularly concerned about extreme hazards, water scarcity, and changes in climatic zones. They generally said the potential of forestry to mitigate climate change is low, and saw few realistic measures like increased harvesting to substitute fossil fuels and energy-intensive materials for mitigation. Despite the uncertainty involved, adaptation strategies like using better-adapted tree species and provenances were mainly perceived as helpful, and tools such as spatially-explicit maps with recommendations for adapted species and indices of biotic and abiotic risks as important. The forestry professionals reported obtaining their information about climate change from advanced forestry training, the media, and scientific literature. The findings of the study are discussed in the light of the ongoing debate on climate change in Germany and recommendations made, including periodically checking and improving forestry professionals’ knowledge about climate change.

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Acknowledgments

This study was part of the project MOTIVE “Models for Adaptive Forest Management”, funded by the European Commission (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 226544 and also was supported by the German Research Foundation's Emmy Noether Program (PO 1751/1-1). We thank Dr Silvia Dingwall, English Consultant at the Swiss Federal Research Institute (WSL) for having checked the language of the paper.

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Correspondence to Rasoul Yousefpour.

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Yousefpour, R., Hanewinkel, M. Forestry professionals’ perceptions of climate change, impacts and adaptation strategies for forests in south-west Germany. Climatic Change 130, 273–286 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1330-5

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Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Forest Management
  • Forest Owner
  • Mitigate Climate Change
  • Forest Condition