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Climate change challenge

Link to Case Study results here

Forestry territory falls within the transitional continental region in the European sub-continental climatic zone. In the region rainfalls are comparatively small and often there are periods of drought lasting over 10 days. The forests stands are low with productivity. Natural stands are mostly mixed coppice (Sessile oak, Hungarian oak, Turkey oak, Hornbeam, Flowering ash, etc.). Climatic conditions, water regime and site conditions are suitable for development of man-made plantations, mainly Austrian pine, a mixture of birch, locust, and in the upper parts of the region Scots pine. Impacts of climate change in this region are drought stress to trees and increased risk of fire. The main objective of the case study is to study coppice oak forests.


Response to the challenge

This case study looks into traditional coppice forest management versus transformation into high stands and restoration of the native tree species under man made conifer plantations.  In addition, energy from biomass, sustainable fresh water supply, and landscape improvement and recreation will also be studied in the case.


The coppice forests in this case study region are conservative. The native forests are two centuries old, and they have at least 3-4 rotations. By each logging, the root system is damaged but remains with the same origin. This stability decreases the remaining trees. After coppicing, oaks renew only the parts above ground, not the root system. The fire risk is increased by the presence of coniferous plantations which are not thinned regularly and by the presence of abandoned agricultural lands. Another prerequisite for the occurrence of fires is the implementation of the old practice of burning stubble, which is forbidden by law but still happens.


Who will carry on the research and what models are applied

Development of coppice stands will be studied with dynamic forest ecosystem model (PICUS). For this purpose more species should be included in the model and the regeneration module should be extended in order to allow the simulation of sprouting. This case study is carried by University of Forestry, Sofia (UFB) and the contact persons are Elena Rafailova (erafailova(at) and Georgi Kostov (georgi_kostov(at)


Where the case study is situated, who owns the land

Municipality of Panagyurishte is situated in a small valley in Sashtinska Sredna Gora in western Bulgaria. The forests in the case study region are primarily owned by the state with less than 5% in private ownership. Much of the coppice forests in lowland areas are owned by municipalities. They are relatively large owners and they are required to manage the forests under the same rules. The regulatory framework applies to both public and private forests. However, differences in management of forests are evident in the case study with small private owners practicing clear-felling while large state or municipal owners are concerned with converting coppice stands into broadleaves, which excludes clear-cutting.

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