Forestry and Peatlands Romania
Forestry in Romania in numbers
The most important type of land use is agriculture (62%), followed by forests and other land with forest vegetation (28%) (30). The national forest stock occupies 26.7% of the total area of the country, and is not uniformly divided in regards to geographic areas (65% mountain, 28% hill, and 7% field) (1).
Due to the physical and geographical features of the natural environment (irregular relief, deep slopes, friable lithological sub-stratum, accentuated torrential character, etc.) and to the social and economic requirements, approximately 52% of the Romanian forests are utilized for special protection functions, mainly hydrological, anti-erosion and climate protection (1).
The forests consist of beech (1.95 million ha), common oak and evergreen oak (1.12 million ha), coniferous trees (1.85 million ha), hornbeam, elm, ashtree, limetree and other species (1.3 million ha). Alpine pastures cover extensive areas at altitudes higher than 1,800 m and are used mainly for sheep breeding. Over 400,000 ha (6.3% of the total area) is affected by drying as a consequence of pollution (1).
The biodiversity of Romanian forests is still large, ranking among the firsts in Europe in this respect. In regards to forest surface, Romania ranks 17th in Europe, with a smaller forest share as compared to other temperate climate European countries (30-40%) (1).
Vulnerabilities - Romania
The main impacts on Romanian forests are (30):
- Aridity of the southern and plain areas, and of the hill areas will increase. Forest will migrate to higher altitudes;
- In the low and hilly forested areas forest productivity is projected to decrease after 2040, due to temperature increase precipitation decrease;
- In the hills, on short term, the production capacity would be excellent, on medium term the scenarios suggest a drastic decrease of the productive capacity, by the decline of the species and the decrease of the tree populations;
- Insect attacks will become more frequent, especially by defoliating caterpillars within the groups of species which produce infestations, followed by the insects which attack between the rind and wood, the defoliating bugs, the sucking and galicol insects, the xylophagous insects, the insects which damage the root, the shoot and the seedlings strain and the seed insects.
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).
It is expected that climate warming will cause the existing life zones to migrate to higher altitudes whereas the lower altitudes become available for life zones nowadays existing in Minor Asia and in the south of the Balkan Peninsula. After 2040 forest biomass might decrease due to enhanced desertification as a result of temperature rise and precipitation decrease, especially during the summer season. For mountain areas, the biomass might slightly increase during 2000-2070 (1).
Especially sensitive to climate change seems to be the oak (Quercus sp.) forest near Bucharest. The forest in the plain area seems to be as sensitive to the climate changes as the forest in the hill area. The oak forest near Bucharest, appear to be affected by the temperature increase, especially after 2040. Even under current climate condition, a negative tendency of the forest should be expected after 2030 (1).
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).
Vulnerabilities – Carpathian forests
Forests provide a number of important ecosystem services to society. They provide timber and protect against floods, mudflows, and other natural hazards by regulating water flows. Another important service is the accumulation of carbon. The more carbon is accumulated in the trees of a forest, the more this forest contributes to the mitigation of climate change. Global warming will change the composition of forests, and this will affect the provision of ecosystem services (35). This is not just due to the direct impact of higher temperatures and changing precipitation patterns. In particular bark beetle infestations will also likely increase due to more favourable thermal conditions and higher susceptibility of host trees due to stronger drought stress (36).
The Carpathian forests as an example
The Carpathian forests are an example of forests where significant changes are expected in the composition of tree species, leading to a reduction of forest carbon sink capacity (37). These forests are the second largest mountain range in Europe predominantly covered with forests. They span seven countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine). Because carbon sequestration is the most important climate regulating function in European temperate forests (38), the Carpathians play a key role in climate change mitigation for the region (34).
The future forest and carbon dynamics of the Carpathians was studied by means of a forest landscape model including interactions between vegetation, climate, and disturbance regimes (34). The study area was chosen in Ukraine, in the centre of these forests. Prevailing tree species in this area are European beech, sessile oak (at lower elevations), and Norway spruce and silver fir (at mid-high elevations. Pedunculated oak, European hornbeam, and sycamore maple are also very common for the study region (39).
The impacts of four different scenarios of climate change were studied: a low-end and a high-end scenario, and two intermediate scenarios (the so-called RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5 scenarios). For these scenarios, projected temperature change between the period 1980-2005 and the period 2071-2095 was calculated. This temperature was then kept constant for 500 years since forest tree composition responds very slowly to climate change, although this response is faster due to natural disturbances such as bark beetle infestations (40). Predicted precipitation changes in this region are minor and thus considered negligible (41).
A significant reduction of stored carbon
The results show a change in species composition accompanied by a significant reduction of the amount of carbon that is stored in the trees above the ground, the so-called ‘aboveground live carbon’ (ALC). Projected changes after 500 years are such that between 2.1% (RCP2.6) and 14.0% (RCP8.5) less carbon is stored in trees above the ground. The additional impact of disturbances such as bark beetle infestations led to an additional reduction of 4.5% − 6.6% stored carbon (34).
This reduction is especially due to the contraction of spruce forests in favour of hornbeam- and maple-dominated forests, and an upward shift of beech- and fir-dominated forests. Soil water stress in response to increasing air temperatures is an important driver of these changes (42). These findings are consistent with previous studies on vegetation dynamics under climate change in Europe (43).
The study illustrates that a strong spruce decline under global warming in European forests may turn these forests into a carbon source and thus reinforce global warming.
Adaptation strategies in Romania
The following adaptation strategies have been proposed (30):
- identification/ testing of (new) species/breeds more tolerant to climate change effects;
- increase of the standing wood surface by the afforestation of certain degraded fields and fields not suitable for efficient agriculture, as well as through the creation of forest shelter-belts for the agricultural fields, watercourses, and anti-erosion protection of slopes;
- promotion of energetic crops and the use of the waste forest biomass resources;
- protection measures of the standing crop;
- increase of the capacity of the forest institutions (management, control, assistance and regional coordination).
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).
Adaptation strategies - Carpathian forests
Foresighted management strategies are needed to facilitate vegetation adaptation to climate change, with the goal of stabilizing carbon storage and maintaining economic value of future Carpathian forests. The authors of this study recommend that managers consider fostering highly productive tree species where they are expected to be adaptable in the future, and facilitating the adaptation of forest vegetation to novel environmental conditions where disturbances are expected to increase significantly. Active measures, like planting of oak, beech, and fir at higher locations, may facilitate the adjustment process (34).
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).
Two strategies: shorter rotations and more intense thinnings
In former socialist East European countries (EEC), many forest regions experienced large-scale changes during the last 70 years. These changes included severe cuttings during or after the Second World War, the nationalization of forests, widespread planting of conifers, and re-privatization after the 1990s. This history strongly influences the current species composition and age structure of forests (33). A large amount of Eastern European forests will reach harvestable age in the next 50 years as a result of the post-war conifer plantations and the cessation of coppice management (31).
The effect of two forest management strategies, shorter rotations and more intense thinnings, on forest adaptation to climate change has been studied for the Eastern Carpathians of Romania. Even-aged spruce stands dominate (50 %) the study area, followed by mixed uneven-aged stands (35 %) of mainly spruce, fir, and beech. Pure beech stands represent only 9 % of the studied area, the remaining stands being fir in admixture with beech (4.5 %) and pure fir stands (1.5 %) (31).
According to this study harvesting can be seen as a chance to undergo active adaptation with respect to species composition: the regeneration cut is a critical momentum of change. The occurrence of many mature stands in Romania is an opportunity to implement large-scale harvests to change species composition and possibly foster climate change adaptation. The study indicates that under moderate and intermediate climate change, species composition changes principally in harvested stands and not in stands not harvested. Under extreme climate change, however, the species change even before harvest (31).
Under severe climate change conditions, 100 years are not sufficient to completely adapt the species composition to climate change and to avoid important losses of biomass (31, 32). The development of new stands with more drought-resistant species is slower than the projected climate shifts, and even proactive management cannot prevent a transition period with very low stocks due to either limited growth or young stands which typically display a lower biomass per hectare than mature stands. This does not exclude the possibility that large biomass stocks could build up in the longer term (31).
The study was carried out for one climate change scenario (the A1B emission scenario; and three regional climate models) for the period 2001–2100. This scenario projects dryer conditions and 2.1 - 5.4 °C temperature increase between now and 2100 during the growing season. The strategies did not include measures of species replacement, such as increasing the share of drought-resistant species, nor disturbances due to windthrow events and increase bark beetle, which could represent major and probable triggers of large-scale stand replacements, with potential impacts on forest species composition (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 Romania.
- Ministry of Environment and Watermanagement (2005)
- Walter (1979), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
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- Reich and Frelich (2002), in: Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
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- 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)
- Ministry of Environment and Forests (2010)
- Bouriaud et al. (2015)
- Temperli et al. (2012), in: Bouriaud et al. (2015)
- Schulze et al. (2014), in: Bouriaud et al. (2015)
- Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Hlásny et al. (2016, 2017); Keeton et al. (2013), both in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Kautz et al. (2017); Netherer et al. (2015), both in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Bonan (2008), in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Naudts et al. (2016); Schwaab et al. (2015); Thom et al. (2017b), all in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Prots and Kagalo (2012), in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Thom et al. (2017a), in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Alder and Hostetler (2013), in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Shvidenko et al. (2017), in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)
- Hanewinkel et al. (2013); Hickler et al. (2012); Thom et al. (2017a), all in: Kruhlov et al. (2018)