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Climate change challenge

Link to Case Study results here

Climate change in the region is revealing itself by rapid increase in aridity, and more frequent extreme events such as droughts. Such changes will drastically impact forest dynamics and as well as biotic and abiotic risks (forest fires). The level of these impacts and the adaptive capacity of forest ecosystems will affect the provision of relevant forest ecosystems, goods and services.


Such climate changes coupled with the abandonment of forest management activities, due to the low profitability of forestry, have increased the risk of forest fires as well as tree mortality resulting from droughts as never before. Therefore, forest fires and climate change are crucial questions to be addressed in adaptive forest management. Private forests in the study area have been widely abandoned; big areas were coppiced for charcoal until 1960s and now they are stagnated forests with very high densities. This situation is resulting in tree mortality from droughts. 



Effect of intense thinning carried out in 1992 in reducing mortality during the drought of 1994.


Response to the challenge

Adaptive forest management for the Prades study area requires considering explicitly the risk of forest fires and the impacts of climate change in forest management decision-making. Therefore new forest management models based on the understanding of the impacts of climate changes in forest functioning and fire risk analysis are needed.  Finally, ways to finance forest management are also required since currently forestry is not profitable and it is limited to small scale and scattered actions. The main current forest uses are nature conservation, recreation and the main objective is to prevent forest fires while preserving the ecological values.


Who will carry on the research and what models are applied

Tools that can anticipate the consequences of man­age­ment decisions under different climate scenarios and their associated impacts in terms of relevant risks (forest fires, droughts, etc) are a key for implementing adaptive forest management. Therefore, a simulation tool based on advanced models that can anticipate the consequences of man­age­ment decisions under different climate scenarios and their associated impacts in terms of relevant risks, i.e. forest fires, droughts, is needed for supporting adaptive forest management.


In this context, the process-based model Gotilwa+ is used to simulate forest growth processes and to explore how these processes are influenced by climate, tree stand structure, management alternatives, soil properties and climate change. GOTILWA will be as well linked to a fire risk model to explore as well the impact of forest management and climate in such risk.


CREAF, EFIís Mediterranean Regional Office EFIMED and FORECOTECH are carrying out on the case study and the contact persons are Carles Gracia (cgracia(at) and Marc Palahi (marc.palahi(at)


Where the case study is situated, who owns the land

The study area (around 26000 ha) is located in a holm-oak and Mediterranean pine forest at the Prades Experimental Complex of Catchments in the province of Tarragona in Catalonia (NE Spain). The key stakeholder for this case study region is the National Park of Prades. As a public body the national park is responsible for enforcing state policy, forest management (both its own and that of other public and private bodies) and monitoring and interacting with all stakeholders within the park boundaries. The ownership structure of the study area comprises around 90% of private forests and 10% of public forests, which is mainly the most important share of the protected area of Poblet (PNIN). Such protected area of about 3.000 ha receives around 40.000 visitors per year due to its natural attractiveness and the vicinity of a historical monastery.

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