French forests must face several different crises at once: Droughts, an invasion of bark beetles, armyworms, etc. Across France, events like these are being reported, largely due to the acceleration of climate change. Since 2018, large parts of public forests have been devastated, with species previously thought of as being perfectly adapted to their area now finding themselves facing challenges.
To fight against these phenomena, France is attempting to adapt its forests to climate change and to make them more resilient. This is the entire focus of the forests component of the French Recovery Plan, which dedicates €30 million to French public forests managed by the French National Office of Forest (ONF).
What are the solutions being developed to help the forest face the consequences of global warming?
It’s about helping forests evolve toward becoming ecosystems that are more resistant to climate disruption. We know that the resistance of plant ecosystems and of forests in particular, is based on their diversity. To guarantee the future of these ecosystems, species diversity musty increase, as well as our forestry methods. This strategy of improving resilience has a name: the mosaic forest. Today, there are multiple challenges, for example bark beetles in eastern France, which ravage important areas of forest that are too homogenous, like with spruces. In this situation, the only solution is to knock down the ravaged trees and replace them with a more diverse mix of species that are more resistant.
What will the additional funding be used for?
First, the Recovery Plan will allow the ONF to intervene in forests that are facing a crisis: that is the curative phase. The ONF will reconstitute forests by diversifying them and introducing species that are more resistant to climate change. At the same time, the ONF will pursue a preventive strategy, concentrating its attention on areas with forests that could, due to certain risk factors, find themselves facing challenges in the future. In order to anticipate these needs, the ONF is already planting and distributing tree species that increase diversity in these areas in order to increase their stability while they are still healthy.