Forestry and Peatlands Albania
Forestry in numbers
The Albanian forests cover 36% of the territory. They consist of the high stem forests (45.7%) and coppice (54.3%). The single species forests occupy 72.3 % and the mixed species forests 27.7 %. According to their functions forests may be classified as production forests (86.0 %) and protection forests (14.0 %). Also, one may distinguish 91.2% natural forests and 8.8% man made forests or plantations (1).
The forests in Albania play the production and protection role, to meet the needs of consumers for logs (wood industry, construction, etc.), and firewood and to perform other functions (erosion control, biodiversity conservation, relax, tourism, hunting, sports, etc.). The coastal forests perform even a protective function, preventing the salty sea winds from penetrating inland (1).
Vulnerabilities - Overview
The increased vulnerability of forests (and people) with respect to climate change refers to several impacts (26,32):
- Forest cover: conversion of forests to non-woody energy plantations; accelerated deforestation and forest degradation; increased use of wood for domestic energy.
- Biodiversity: alteration of plant and animal distributions; loss of biodiversity; habitat invasions by non-native species; alteration of pollination systems; changes in plant dispersal and regeneration.
- Productivity: changes in forest growth and ecosystem biomass; changes in species/site relations; changes in ecosystem nitrogen dynamics.
- Health: increased mortality due to climate stresses; decreased health and vitality of forest ecosystems due to the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors; deteriorating health of forest-dependent peoples.
- Soils and water: changes in the seasonality and intensity of precipitation, altering the flow regimes of streams; changes in the salinity of coastal forest ecosystems; increased probability of severe droughts; increased terrain instability and soil erosion due to increased precipitation and melting of permafrost; more/earlier snow melt resulting in changes in the timing of peak flow and volume in streams. The capacity of the forest ecosystem to purify water is an important service, obviating the cost of expensive filtration plants.
- Carbon cycles: alteration of forest sinks and increased CO2 emissions from forested ecosystems due to changes in forest growth and productivity.
- Tangible benefits of forests for people: changes in tree cover; changes in socio-economic resilience; changes in availability of specific forest products (timber, non-timber wood products and fuel wood, wild foods, medicines, and other non-wood forest products).
- Intangible services provided by forests: changes in the incidence of conflicts between humans and wildlife; changes in the livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples (also a tangible benefit); changes in socio-economic resilience; changes in the cultural, religious and spiritual values associated with particular forests.
Increasingly there are concerns about the productivity of non-timber products such as medicines and foods. Relatively little information is available in the scientific literature about the sustainable management of such products, and even less is known about their vulnerability to climate change (26).
Vulnerabilities - Albania
About 30 % of Europe is covered by forests. Under a warmer climate, it is expected that the northern range limits of most native tree species in Europe will expand. The southern boundary of some species will shift to north specifically at the boundary of steppe and forest zones. Limited moisture resulting from increasing temperature and possible reduced summer rainfall may lead to productivity declines in central and southern Europe. Summer temperature rise and reduction of precipitation may further increase fire risk (2). Forest productivity and total biomass is likely to increase in the north and decrease in central Europe, while tree mortality is likely to accelerate in the south (3).
In Albania, the species that resist high temperatures and severe long dry seasons would be least affected by climate change. For those that need moisture (silver fir, etc.), the danger of being limited in distribution or disappearing does exist. The species that produce many small seeds and have a high distribution potential (Pinus etc.) would be able to survive and to spread at sea level, whereas oak species, which produce big seeds, would occupy new areas but very slowly (1).
Among all European regions, the Mediterranean appears most vulnerable to global change. Multiple potential impacts are related primarily to increased temperatures and reduced precipitation. The impacts included water shortages, increased risk of forest fires, northward shifts in the distribution of typical tree species, and losses of agricultural potential. Mountain regions also seemed vulnerable because of a rise in the elevation of snow cover and altered river runoff regimes (4).
A major concern is raised by the highly fragmented conditions of forest stands in the Mediterranean zone; the lack of “green” connections and corridors in the Mediterranean landscape may become very harmful in the future environment if the present forest vegetation may be required to migrate towards more suitable areas (5).
Vulnerabilities – Temperate forests in Europe
In parts of Europe with temperate forests, annual mean temperatures are below 17°C but above 6°C, and annual precipitation is at least 500 mm and there is a markedly cool winter period (6). Temperate forests are dominated by broad-leaf species with smaller amounts of evergreen broad-leaf and needle-leaf species (7). Common species include the oaks, eucalypts, acacias, beeches, pines, and birches.
Many of the major factors that influence these forests are due to human activities, including land-use and landscape fragmentation, pollution, soil nutrients and chemistry, fire suppression, alteration to herbivore populations, species loss, alien invasive species, and now climate change (8).
Forest productivity has been increasing in western Europe (9). This is thought to be from increasing CO2 in the atmosphere (10), anthropogenic nitrogen deposition (11), warming temperatures (12), and associated longer growing seasons (13).
Most models predict continuing trends of modestly increasing forest productivity in Western Europe over this century (14). Projections for the time near the end of the next century generally suggest decreasing growth and a reduction in primary productivity enhancement as temperatures warm, CO2 saturation is reached for photosynthetic enhancement, and reduced summer precipitation all interact to decrease temperate zone primary productivity (15). The projected increased occurrence of pests, particularly in drought-stressed regions, also contributes to decreased long-term primary productivity in some regions of temperate forests (16).
Sensitivity to increasing air pollution loads, particularly nitrogen deposition and tropospheric ozone, will impact large areas of the northern temperate forest over the next century. In the temperate domain, air pollution is expected to interact with climate change; while the fertilization effects from nitrogen deposition are still highly uncertain, pollutants such as ozone are known to diminish primary productivity (17).
The ranges of northern temperate forests are predicted to extend into the boreal forest range in the north and upward on mountains (18). The distribution of temperate broadleaved tree species is typically limited by low winter temperatures (19). Since the latter are projected to rise more rapidly than summer temperatures in Europe and North America, temperate broad-leaved tree species may profit and invade currently boreal areas more rapidly than other temperate species.
Temperate forest regions in the highly productive forests of western Europe (20) are known to be robust carbon sinks, although increased temperature may reduce this effect through loss of carbon from soils (21). Weaker carbon sinks or even carbon losses are seen for temperate forests in areas prone to periodic drought, such as southern Europe (22).
Models suggest that the greatest climate change threat to temperate forest ecosystems is reduced summer precipitation, leading to increased frequency and severity of drought (23). This will probably be most prominent in temperate forest regions that have already been characterized as prone to drought stress, such as southern Europe. Drought-stricken forests are also more susceptible to opportunistic pests and fire (24). Together, these related effects can potentially change large areas of temperate forest ecosystems from carbon sinks to sources.
Economic value of European forest land
The expected value of European forest land is expected to decrease owing to the decline of economically valuable species(such as Norway spruce, one of the major commercial tree species in Europe) in the absence of effective countermeasures (34).
For the whole area of Europe (excluding Russia) the species range shifts for the IPCC SRES scenarios B2, A1B and A1FI for the end of this century have been projected using four different climate model outputs per scenario. It was found that by 2100, depending on the interest rate and climate scenario applied (34),
- this loss varies between 14 and 50% (mean: 28% for an interest rate of 2%) of the present value of forest land in Europe, excluding Russia, and may total several hundred billion Euros;
- between 21 and 60% (mean: 34%) of European forest lands will be suitable only for a Mediterranean oak forest type with low economic returns for forest owners and the timber industry and reduced carbon sequestration;
- suitable Norway spruce habitats will be restricted to the higher elevations in central Europe and to areas in northern Sweden, Finland and Norway. For broadleaves such as oak and beech the model projects a range shift from today's ranges in western Europe (France, Netherlands, Germany) and the lower elevations in central and eastern Europe more to central, northern and north-eastern Europe.
Globally, based on both satellite and ground-based data, climatic changes seemed to have a generally positive impact on forest productivity since the middle of the 20th century, when water was not limiting (33).
Timber production in Europe
Climate change will probably increase timber production and reduce prices for wood products in Europe. For 2000–2050 a change of timber production in Europe is expected of -4 to +5%. For 2050–2100 an increase is expected of +2 to +13% (25).
Adaptation strategies - Albania
The adaptation strategy of Albania includes:
- Preparation of the Strategy of Sustainable Development of Forest;
- Preparation and implementation of the research programs aimed at the management of forest units on genetically resources, adapting of the forest species and provenance, production of hybrid species that are better adapted to climate change and sea level rise, and the identification of better adapted cultivation systems;
- Evaluation of the actual situation for each forest type, in relation with climate change and sea level rise;
- Increasing of the protected forest area;
- Reduction of the illegal cuttings at the maximum extent and studying of the real need for fuel wood;
- Increasing of the investments to implement more actions in existing forests and environmental protection areas;
- Implementation of actions to increase the existing forest productivity (rehabilitation of the degraded forests, conversion of the coppice and shrub forests to high stem forests or planting the fast-growing species or more capable species to sink CO2 emissions);
- Increasing of the forest area through the new reforestation;
- Study and monitoring of the forest health situation as well as effects of applied measures in forests (a.o. the fire situation).
Adaptation strategies - Forest management measures in general
Near-nature forest management and a move away from monocultures toward mixed forest types, in terms of both species and age classes, are advocated. In addition, natural or imitated natural regeneration is indicated as a method of maintaining genetic diversity, and subsequently reducing vulnerability. For management against extreme disturbances, improvements in fire detection and suppression techniques are recommended, as well as methods for combating pests and diseases. It is reported that through stricter quarantine and sanitary management, the impact of insects and diseases can be minimized. The establishment of migration corridors between forest reserves may aid in the autonomous colonization and migration of species in response to climate change (30).
The projected rapid decline of productive species such as Norway spruce, one of the major commercial tree species in Europe, and the associated expected rise in their wood price, may result in incentives to adapt by planting new non-European species. Many forest owners have already started to replace Norway spruce with Douglas fir, a productive, non-native and more drought-adapted species that has already been planted in Europe (34).
Management strategies in response to the projected climate changes include forest conversion, changing rotation times or thinning regimes (35).
The terms adaptation and adaptive management are often incorrectly used interchangeably. The former involves making adjustments in response to or in anticipation of climate change whereas the latter describes a management system that may be considered, in itself, to be an adaptation tactic (27). Adaptive management is a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programmes (28). It involves recognizing uncertainty and establishing methodologies to test hypotheses concerning those uncertainties; it uses management as a tool not only to change the system but to learn about the system (29).
Both the climate and forest ecosystems are constantly changing, and managers will need to adapt their strategies as the climate evolves over the long term. An option that might be appropriate today given expected changes over the next 20 years may no longer be appropriate in 20 years’ time. This will require a continuous programme of actions, monitoring and evaluation – the adaptive management approach described above (26).
There is a widespread assumption that the forest currently at a site is adapted to the current conditions, but this ignores the extent to which the climate has changed over the past 200–300 years, and the lag effects that occur in forests. As a result, replacement of a forest by one of the same composition may no longer be a suitable strategy (26).
Adaptation to climate change has started to be incorporated into all levels of governance, from forest management to international forest policy. Often these policies are not adopted solely in response to climate, and may occur in the absence of knowledge about longer-term climate change. They often serve more than one purpose, including food and fuel provision, shelter and minimizing erosion, as well as adapting to changing climatic conditions (30).
Socio-economic and political conditions have significant influences on vulnerability and adaptive capacity. Climate change projections are perceived by many forest managers as too uncertain to support long-term and potentially costly decisions that may be difficult to reverse. Similarly, uncertainty over future policy developments may also constrain action. Finance is a further barrier to implementing adaptation actions in the forest sector (31).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Albania.
- Republic of Albania, Ministry of Environment (2002)
- Lasch et al.(2002), in: European Environment Agency (EEA) (2005)
- Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Schröter et al. (2005)
- Kellomäki et al. (2000)
- Walter (1979), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Melillo et al. (1993), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Reich and Frelich (2002), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Carrer and Urbinati (2006), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Field et al. (2007b), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Hyvönen et al. (2007); Magnani et al. (2007), both in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Marshall et al. (2008), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Chmielewski and Rötzer (2001); Parmesan (2006), both in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Alcamo et al. (2007); Field et al. (2007b); Alo and Wang (2008), all in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Lucht et al. (2006); Scholze et al. (2006); Alo and Wang (2008), all in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Williams et al. (2000); Williams and Liebhold (2002); Logan and Powell (2001); Tran et al. (2007); Friedenberg et al. (2008), all in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Iverson and Prasad (2001); Ohlemüller et al. (2006); Fischlin et al. (2007); Golubyatnikov and Denisenko (2007), all in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Perry et al. (2008), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Liski et al. (2002), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Piao et al. (2008), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Morales et al. (2007), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Christensen et al. (2007); Fischlin et al. (2007); Meehl et al. (2007); Schneider et al. (2007), all in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Hanson and Weltzin (2000), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
- Karjalainen et al. (2003); Nabuurs et al. (2002); Perez-Garcia et al. (2002); Sohngen et al. (2001), in: Osman-Elasha and Parrotta (2009)
- Innes (ed.) (2009)
- Ogden and Innes (2007), in: Innes (ed.) (2009)
- BCMOF (2006a), in: Innes (ed.) (2009)
- Holling (1978); Lee (1993, 2001), all in: Innes (ed.) (2009)
- Roberts (ed.) (2009)
- Keskitalo (2008), in: Roberts (ed.) (2009)
- Kirilenko and Sedjo (2007)
- Boisvenue et al. (2006)
- Hanewinkel et al. (2013)
- Bolte et al. (2009), in: Hanewinkel et al. (2013)