We want you to know what is going on in the BOD, our meetings, our actions, members leaving, the new ones elected,... but text written in this blog cannot be taken an official position or statement of the Society for Conservation Biology. Probably it is not even an official statement of the section... as these need to be approved by the members.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

What are forests? A debate in the magazine Nature

Recently we published a short response in Nature on a paper by Fares et al. that clearly confused forests and forestry when proposing how "sustainability" (of the industry?) should be achieved under climate change. As conservation biologist it should be obvious that forests are much more than timber, pulp and energy. We wish that this was evident also for a broader set of researcher and practitioners dealing with forest ecosystems. Apparently this was not the case for Fares and co-authors. Below is our initial somewhat longer submission to Nature. For the publication itself, see Jonsson, Pe'er & Svoboda, Nature 521: 32 ("Forests: not just timber plantations"): http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v521/n7550/full/521032b.html

Forests:  Not just timber plantations!

Foresty is different ....
Fares et al. (Nature 519, 25 March 2015) offer useful recommendations for commodity forest landscapes, whose main goal is timber production. Yet the authors treat 30% of Europe’s terrestrial area as if they were plantations, discounting many other ecosystem services provided by forests. Their interventions ignore broad scientific evidence demonstrating that, to secure forests’ multiple values, one must work with nature and learn from it, seeking nature-based solutions rather than going against them (Kraus and Krumm 2013).

...from forests, not obvious to all
One central value is biodiversity, with significant proportion of European species depending on forests as a habitat; many being under severe threats from current forestry practices penetrating into, and fragmenting, forests across Europe. Forests also provide cultural ecosystem services, including recreational opportunities that generate highly significant revenues from tourism.

The interventions proposed by Fares et al. (2015) oppose these values and capacities, following the old-school control and command forestry where ecosystem stressors are maximized in space and time. There is little evidence to support the potential usefulness or benefits of this approach, in Europe or elsewhere in the world. Alternative guiding principles for forest protection should be to maintain landscape connectivity, heterogeneity and structural complexity, and to allow natural ecosystem processes including disturbances (Lindenmayer et al. 2006). Maintaining forests’ natural processes allows them to build resilience to climate change and other disturbances, whilst many forestry practices still do the opposite.

We warn against confusing forestry with forests. It portrays a false message that combating and controlling nature is good for Earth’s climate and offering sustainable solutions in a rapidly changing world. Given current EU deliberation toward a Common Forestry Strategy, we recall that the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy (Target 3b) requires minimizing forest management stressors on biodiversity, rather than intensifying pressures and perpetuating the image as if Europe’s forests are plantations.
Fares, S.; Mugnozza, G.S.; Corona, P. and Palahi, M. 2015. Sustainability: Five steps for managing Europe's forests. Nature, 519: 407–409.
Kraus, D. and Krumm, F. (eds) 2013. Integrative approaches as an opportunity for the conservation of forest biodiversity. European Forest Institute. 248 pp.
Lindenmayer, D. et al. 2006. General management principles and a checklist of strategies to guide forest biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation, 131: 433–445.

Bengt Gunnar Jonsson Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden
Guy Pe’er, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany.
Miroslav Svoboda, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic

Sunday, 29 March 2015


Biodiversity Theory and Practice. Zagori, Greece, 29rd June - 10th July, 2015
This school continues the series of Greek Summer Schools in Conservation Biology that began in 2008 but will be of a more quantitative nature and will focus on biodiversity. GSS-2015 will be under the aegis of the Society for Conservation Biology and of HELECOS. We aim to equip participants with an understanding of the principles of modern biodiversity theory and to teach practical skills for biodiversity fieldwork including sampling design and monitoring. Students will also learn how to use some of the main computer packages for biodiversity data analysis, mainly in the R programming environment. The duration is 12 days. The course is worth 6 ECTS and is aimed at graduate and postgraduate students; applicants with good quantitative skills are especially welcome. The fee of 700€ covers registration, food, accommodation and local transport. The number of participants is limited to 15. GSS-2015 will be held at the PALASE Field Station of the University of Ioannina in Ano Pedina. As familiarity with R is essential, we offer a special two-day refresher course (27th-28th June) prior to the start of the school for those wishing to ‘brush up’ on R. More information at the GSS website (gss.bat.uoi.gr).
Note: We are offering a number of places at a reduced (€200 instead of €700) fee. Applicants seeking such support should indicate this in their applications. Preference is given to applicants with economic difficulties. The British Ecological Society offers a number of travel grants for this course. More information.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Flamingos at “Point d’Or"

BoD trip advisor #1 to Montpellier

A less important report from BoD members in Montpellier

Tram line 3 brings you to the beach and a guarantee to see Flamingos. However, it comes with adventures if you at the same time consider going to the airport. Highways with heavy traffic blocks birdwatchers from the beach itself, if not brave enough to jump and run. The way to the airport appears deceivingly simple, maybe only 1000 m’s the way the bloody birds fly. Between the desired target (airport check in) and the birdwatchers is a boring industry area with no sidewalks. Zig-zacking through concrete buildings and parking lots takes you eventually (if lucky) to the gypsy (no offense to them!) camp and hoards of barking aggressive dogs. Some walking along the highway in the hot sun holds some promise to eventually make it to the airport entrance. At our scouting excursion the weather was nice and the spring flowers blooming, but in hot August this could potentially be the metal smelter from hell. Maybe some heat loving lizards like the place, but with 20 kilos of luggage on tow or in the rucksack this is a potential nightmare. Yet, the Flamingos are to be seen for those keen on adventures!