Climate ‘key driver’ in European forest disturbances

Europe’s forests have experienced increased disturbances throughout the 20th Century from wind, bark beetles and wildfires. European-based scientists identified climatic changes as a "key driver behind this increase". However, they added, how the expected continuation of climate change would affect Europe’s forests in the future remained unresolved.
The findings have been published online by the journal Nature Climate Change. The researchers wrote: "Natural disturbances, that is, large pulses of tree mortality from agents such as wildfire, insect outbreaks or strong winds, are integral drivers of forest dynamics and contribute to the diversity and adaptive capacity of ecosystems." But co-author Rupert Seidl from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna observed:
"These disturbances have intensified considerably in recent decades, which increasingly challenges the sustainable management of forest ecosystems." The authors said the frequency and severity of large wildfires had increased around the globe over the past decade. They added: "In addition, recent bark beetle outbreaks, for example, in North America and Central Europe, have reached unprecedented levels."