LIFEGENMON: LIFE+ for European forest genetic monitoring system

LOGO LIFEGENMON

In the beginning of the 20th century, Edvard Pogačnik bought forest lands in Pohorje, Slovenia, Central Europe, which he initially described as “in an unfavourable state”. He attributed their condition to inappropriate forest management and used a mixture of systematic observations and forest care to create a forest of “especially appealing structure and quality” (Martin Čokl, 1959). He has independently developed a forest control method and his autochthonous system of forest management is comparable to the most advanced forest management methods of the time.

Edvard Pogačnik’s forests in approx. 1959

Edvard Pogačnik’s forests in approx. 1959

In 1947, Pogačnik wrote for the Slovene Journal of Forestry: »Because I haven’t found an appropriate forest management procedure for our circumstances, I have started creating one myself.” He started his measurements in 1909. The tireless work of many generations of foresters, forest researchers and forestry students has created more than 100 years of data on these forests. Forest research plots with this amount of data are rare, but extremely important for our understanding of forest ecosystems.

Today, these forests host one of the 6 pilot plots for forest genetic monitoring that are part of the LIFEGENMON project. LIFEGENMON is a six year ongoing international project funded by European Commission’s LIFE+ (The Financial Instrument for the Environment) that is conducted by 6 partner institutions in 3 European countries (Slovenia, Germany, Greece) and coordinated by the Slovenian Forestry Institute. We are developing a long-term European forest genetic monitoring system. Our main aim is to find out whether the existing forest tree populations can ensure the survival and adaptability of future tree generations in the changing environmental conditions.

Adaptability of future forest tree generations relies on conserving biodiversity on every possible level, including genetic. Conservation of forest biodiversity is the foundation for sustainable forest management. Forest genetic monitoring allows us to detect potentially harmful changes of forest adaptability on the genetic level before they are seen on higher levels (such as entire forest die-offs). Forest genetic monitoring can serve as an early warning system for a large number of increasing threats to population’s adaptability, such as inappropriate forest management or invasive alien species.

LIFEGENMON Project team at the other a forest genetic monitoring plot in Slovenia

LIFEGENMON Project team at the other a forest genetic monitoring plot in Slovenia

In the LIFEGENMON project, we are going to develop a forest genetic monitoring system through laboratory, field and scientific work in Slovenia, Germany and Greece. By July 2020, the system will be ready for practical implementation through the Manual for Forest Genetic Monitoring. We are constantly communicating and disseminating forests, forestry, forest genetics and long-term forest monitoring knowledge to different general and professional audiences through presentations, classes, internet, workshops for experts, students and children, summer schools and the media.

To follow our project and find out more, please visit our website and join us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Blogpost by: Boris Rantaša, Domen Finžgar, Barbara Fussi, Marjana Westergen, Hojka Kraigher (Slovenian Forestry Institute, ASP Bayern) – contact: boris.rantasa(at)gozdis.si
Illustrations courtesy M. Čokl (second), LIFEGENMON

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