One of the main problems faced by forest plantations in southern Europe, and in other areas of the Mediterranean Basin, is the mortality processes related to climate change, and in particular to severe drought. Previous research has provided insights into the potential response of growth and water use efficiency to thinning in Mediterranean forests, but little is known about the potential benefits of silviculture for Pinus plantations under severe drought stress. In this talk, I will give an overview of the current and adaptive forest management and silvicultural practices implemented in Pinus planted forests and then contribute to this field with a novel silvicultural approach as a flexible and multi-scale way to manage forests under climatic risk. This research is a close cooperation between foresters, ecologists, and remote sensing experts to understand the growth and functional responses of high-density planted pine forests to thinning in drought-prone areas. Our findings suggest that water shortage, linked to recurrent droughts, together with high tree competition, negatively affected tree growth, which explains the dieback of some of these pine plantations. We evidence the vulnerability of densely planted Mediterranean pines to the forecasted warmer and drier conditions. Therefore, this talk is a new contribution that shows the need for forest managers and ecologists to take urgent measures that will help drought-sensitive Mediterranean pine plantations adapt to the risks associated with climate warming. I hope to provide a promising and more efficient forest management and silvicultural framework for the adaptation of these drought-sensitive Mediterranean mountain pine forests to the potential risks of climate change.
Rafael M Navarro is full professor at the Department of Forest Engineering at University of Córdoba (Spain). As such, his research focuses on the ecological and silvicultural factors that influence Mediterranean forest ecosystem dynamics in a climatic change context. Dr Navarro holds the research unit of Silvicultural, Dendrochronology and applied Forest Ecology Lab of the Faculty of Forestry Engineering. His current research goal is the integration of dendrochronological approaches, long-term data collections, and remote sensing to assess the differential response of managed and unmanaged Pinus planted forest systems to variations in climate, forest health, and disturbance conditions. Two main projects support this research: “LIFE FOREST CO2, Assessment of forest-carbon sinks and promotion of compensation systems as tools for climate change mitigation-LIFE14 CCM/ES/001271” (Life Projects-European Community) and ESPECTRAMED (CGL2017-86161-R) which evaluate the impacts and efficacy of operational scale forest management strategies for reducing climate change and forest health effects on forests in southeastern Europe. Additionally, Dr Navarro has long-standing interest in forest management in dry tropical forests, originating in his PhD field research at Bolivia, and most recently in other research projects in miomboforests in Angola and Mozambique. Finally, Dr Navarro is the cofounder and director of the Master in Geomatics, Remote Sensing and Ecological models applied to forest management (GEOFOREST) from its inception in 2014.
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