Forestry and Peatlands Moldova
Forestry in numbers
The forestry sector contributed just 0.3–0.4% of GDP during the last decade. Fuel wood is particularly important for rural households, who are unable to afford gas or electricity for heating and cooking (30). Annually, the forest ecosystems provide approximately 360,000 to 380,000 m3 of timber from which 45,000 m3 is used for construction, 290,000 m3 as firewood and 30,000 to 50,000 m3 for other purposes (31).
As of January 1, 2008 forestry ecosystems covered 13.5% of the land resources of the Republic of Moldova. Currently, all forestry ecosystems are affected by human impact, expressed by destroyed biotopes, unregulated defalcation of biologic resources or inappropriate ecosystem management. The woods are predominantly composed of deciduous species (97.8%), including oak species (39.6%), ash trees species (4.6%), hornbeam species (2,6%), acacia species (36.1%), and poplar species (1.6%) (1,30). Almost one-third of the standing stock creating the forestry fund represents artificially introduced species not well adjusted to the natural ecosystems of the country (30).
The forestry ecosystems are populated by circa 860 species of plants which account for 43% of the total spontaneous floral biodiversity of the Republic of Moldova (1,30).
The existent circa 5 thousand wood bodies (with a surface from 5 ha to 15 thousand ha) are unevenly dispersed, with practically no interconnection forest corridors which are of major importance both for the viability of the forestry fund, as well as for the biologic diversity, soils and waters protection (1,30).
A long-term, one-hundred-year trend of deforestation has been reversed in the past 50 years, and Moldova’s current forest policy calls for a further increase in forest cover through forestation and improved community management of forests for direct uses and catchment protection. Despite afforestation activities conducted from 2002 to 2008, the country still has a very low level of forest cover, which explains in part the frequency and severity of soil erosion, flood and landslide events. Moldova’s forests are characterized as highly vulnerable to pests and diseases (30).
To ensure constant ecological balance and more pronounced impact on the local climate and hydrology, to establish ecological corridors connecting forest areas and to improve the productivity of agricultural land, it is expected to plant forests on about 128,000 ha by 2020, with about 5,000 ha of plantations with quick-growing species and about 5,000 ha of green zones in urban and rural settlements (30).
Vulnerabilities - Overview
The increased vulnerability of forests (and people) with respect to climate change refers to several impacts (22,28):
- 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.
Increasing CO2 concentration can affect tree growth through increased photosynthetic rates and through improved water-use efficiency. There will be complex interactions, however: forest growth rates may well be increased in some cases by rising levels of atmospheric CO2, but rising temperatures, higher evaporation rates and lower rainfall may lower growth rates in other cases (13).
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 (22).
According to projections of climate change, unfavorable changes will occur in the forests in the northern part of the country where high level trees drying area will expand by circa 15-25% by the end of the period 2010-2039. In between 2040-2069 the change of the phytosanitary condition determined by the trees drying level in the northern part of the country will strongly aggravate expanding towards south and southeast. Significant changes under this aspect will take place in between 2070-2099. In the northern part the forests will dry out intensely. … it is quite likely that current species of forest trees may completely disappear (1).
By the end of this century climate aridization in the northern part of the country may entail particularly serious drying effects with possible gradual disappearance of forests. The same situation may occur in the south where the oak groves from offshoots will become less consistent being unable to dominate the stand, unless not regenerated in due time from seeds. Of the current forest ecosystems, the future climate change can mostly affect introduced forest species and ash trees monocultures (1).
The climate conditions of year 2007 can serve as a projection of future climate change and their impact may be interpreted as a potential model to assess the impact of future climate elements on the forest ecosystems: climate change can lead to the decrease of mesophilic forests areas (beech trees stands, durmast trees stands and oak trees stands) in favor of thermophilic forests of durmast with wig trees and of xerofile pastures (1).
The beech tree may respond negatively by decreasing total production. The beech tree as a species in the Republic of Moldova will continue to be a part of sustainable forest structures; however, these will have a less expanded habitat. The durmast is apparently not affected by the new climate conditions featuring an increase of biomass accumulation by circa 20%. The hornbeam features a decreased total production in the second half of the production cycle (after 2050), so that by the end of the century it will be significantly affected by the reduced total production determined by drying at the species level. The ash tree is also an important mix species and a generator of a complex forest structure, apparently not affected by new environment conditions of the first third of the production cycle, later featuring decreased biomass accumulation. Among the mix species the hornbeam and the ash tree may be the most vulnerable species in the new climate conditions determined by climate change (1).
In a nutshell climate change threats of forestry in Moldova refer to (30):
- species behaviour and their adaptability capacity to new conditions;
- changes in the distribution and composition of habitats due to changes in species composition;
- increased number of exotic species in existing natural habitats, with the risk of becoming invasive and leading to extinction of native species;
- change in wetland ecosystems due to increased aridization;
- loss of flora and fauna due to species reduced adaptability capacities under new climate conditions, particularly drying effects.
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 (2). Temperate forests are dominated by broad-leaf species with smaller amounts of evergreen broad-leaf and needle-leaf species (3). 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 (4).
Forest productivity has been increasing in western Europe (5). This is thought to be from increasing CO2 in the atmosphere (6), anthropogenic nitrogen deposition (7), warming temperatures (8), and associated longer growing seasons (9).
Most models predict continuing trends of modestly increasing forest productivity in Western Europe over this century (10). 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 (11). 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 (12).
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 (13).
The ranges of northern temperate forests are predicted to extend into the boreal forest range in the north and upward on mountains (14). The distribution of temperate broadleaved tree species is typically limited by low winter temperatures (15). 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 (16) are known to be robust carbon sinks, although increased temperature may reduce this effect through loss of carbon from soils (17). Weaker carbon sinks or even carbon losses are seen for temperate forests in areas prone to periodic drought, such as southern Europe (18).
Models suggest that the greatest climate change threat to temperate forest ecosystems is reduced summer precipitation, leading to increased frequency and severity of drought (19). 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 (20). Together, these related effects can potentially change large areas of temperate forest ecosystems from carbon sinks to sources.
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 (29).
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% (21).
Adaptation strategies - Moldova
The measures to be taken in Moldova are (30):
- establishment of a national system for monitoring of threatened species;
- development of a specific management plan to prevent the progressive degradation of habitats as a result of climate change effects;
- conduct studies and assess the vulnerability of various ecosystems and species to climate change impact;
- conduct scientific research on monitoring and forecasting changes in forest ecosystems;
- review the regulatory framework for forestry regimes;
- identify and plant species that will benefit from the new environmental conditions;
- increase forest area through forestation of degraded lands;
- promotion of efficient agriculture and creation of protective forest belts for agricultural fields and water courses;
- providing assistance for regeneration and increasing the productivity of native forest in Moldova (species composition and structure);
- increase tree and shrub species diversity and establish a genebank;
- building institutional capacity and public awareness.
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 (26).
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 (23). Adaptive management is a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programmes (24). 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 (25).
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 (22).
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 (22).
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 (26).
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 (27).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Moldova.
- Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (2009)
- 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)
- Gavrilita and Druta (2010)
- www.icas.com.md, in: UNDP (2009)