Presentations and field introductions in the frame of Life4OakForests project
The meeting took place on 5-6 September 2019. Within the framework of the program, we heard presentations about the project objectives, activities in the Bükk- and Duna Ipoly National Parks, and got acquainted with the characteristics of permanent forest management at Pilisi Parkerdő Ltd. The trees are harvested from a much smaller area at the same time than the currently used traditional forestry in Hungary and, unlike the latter, there is no clear cutted area, thus practically ensuring continuous forest cover of each area. This, in addition to ensuring continuous revenue in the face of global warming due to climate change, is also less destructive for forest habitats.
The method involves interventions primarily for a relatively small number of selected trees (so-called target trees), and there are no intensive management objectives in the areas between selected target trees (although they may also carry out work to obtain an appropriate diameter distribution). As a result, the forest can remain much more homogenous and even as a result of natural processes, scattered deadwood may remain in the forest.
The yield of trees is not linked to their age, but to a certain diameter range (target diameter). Because each tree reaches the same size at different ages, they are harvested at different times, which eventually results in multi-age stands in the forest so treated. During the interventions, the trees that prevent the growth of selected trees (target trees) are harvested, which are replaced by spontaneous regeneration, which represent an entirely different generation. Thus, in a few decades, a diverse forest structure is created on a small scale. This increases the diversity of habitats within the forest, which also increases the biodiversity of the forest.
Although the target diameter is determined from an economic point of view, it is typically reached between the ages of 160 and 180 (e.g., sessile oak – Quercus petraea), depending on the tree species. That is, this method also increases multi-ages by maintaining old trees in the forest that are currently virtually unavailable due to the economic exploitation of forests. In addition, smaller set aside areas and biotypes per tree are identified, which are not affected by logging, thus contributing to the gradual increase of deadwood and the increase in the size of large, old, diverse habitats.
Another point of connection is that this type of forestry, like natural habitats, is sensitive to large game species. Although the diverse forest structure resulting from permanent forest management provides better nutrition for large game species, which can also be beneficial to game hunters, it is imperative to recognize in the current circumstances that oak regeneration cannot be secured without installing fences.
Of course, permanent forest management, as its name implies, is a form of forest management. In many places, additional measures are certainly needed to achieve nature conservation goals. However, it is a very good starting point towards to truly sustainable forestry. Pilisi Parkerdő Ltd. Has taken the pioneering role of trying to provide a real answer to a real problem (meeting the diverse requirements of forests) – using its professional knowledge. When it was willing to adapt a system already in operation elsewhere to the domestic conditions and to create the conditions for applying the new method – including retraining and training his own colleagues. It is remarkable that they operates this system for a significant part of their area, constantly monitoring problems and adjusting it as needed. This is the only way to find common solutions.
The two-day study tour was attended by staff from several National Park Directorates, forestry authorities and forestry enterprises. If everyone took home what we experienced here, we were closer to being able to work together for better forests in the future in an efficient and respectful way.