Climate change and disturbances will shape future temperate forests in the transition zone between Central and SE Europe


  • Lado Kutnar Slovenian Forestry Institute, Večna pot 2, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Janez Kermavnar Slovenian Forestry Institute, Večna pot 2, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Anže Martin Pintar Slovenian Forestry Institute, Večna pot 2, Ljubljana, Slovenia



climate warming, disturbance factors, ice storm, bark beetle outbreaks, spruce decline, salvage logging, tree species composition, temperate forest


It is expected that climate change as well as abiotic and anthropogenic disturbances will strongly influence temperate forests. Besides changes in the main climate variables, various disturbance factors may significantly worsen conditions for mesic Slovenian forests (SE Europe) dominated by European beech (Fagus sylvatica), Norway spruce (Picea abies) and European silver fir (Abies alba). In Slovenia, the climate has warmed in recent decades, with an average annual rate of increase of about 0.4°C per decade or even more than 0.5°C per decade in summer. In addition, disturbances have caused considerable damage to trees in the most extensive forest types in Slovenia, starting with a widespread ice storm in 2014, followed by bark beetle outbreaks, windthrows and salvage logging interventions. After 2014, salvage logging increased from about one third to two thirds of the total annual felling. Over the last two decades, we have observed a decline in Norway spruce growing stock, with the highest rate of decrease in areas below 500 m a.s.l., and an increasing trend for European beech. Overall, the three dominant species (beech, spruce, silver fir), which together account for more than 70% of the total growing stock, have shown a declining trend over the last 20 years. The patterns observed are broadly consistent with earlier predictions developed for different climate change scenarios and with those reported in many other European countries. Adaptive forest management, which implements close-to-nature silviculture, has been traditionally practised in the region under study and has the potential to play an important role in reducing the risks associated with the impacts of climate change and disturbances in the future.


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