With competition for the use of forest resources ever increasing, the EU-funded project DIABOLO sets out to track disturbances and degradation more effectively. Seeing the wood for the trees with advanced sensing technology © Traveller Martin, Shutterstock As part of what has been called the ‘green infrastructure’, Europe’s forests are at the forefront of competing drives. They fulfil various functions including: the supply of raw materials for energy production, carbon sequestration to offset greenhouse gas emissions, provision of sanctuary for biodiversity conservation, and water protection, as well as offering recreation opportunities. As demands for each use increase so EU policies, regulatory frameworks and reporting requirements strive to keep up. Indeed, forest management cuts across a range of sectors, each with their own data standards and processes, making effective resource management problematic. The need for better forest health and vitality assessments, as well as to make information readily available to end-users, is recognised by the Green paper of the European Commission and in the new EU Forest Strategy. The EU-funded project, DIABOLO, was set up to contribute to efforts to develop a sustainable European bioeconomy. The state of play in data collection Effectively monitoring the status of forests currently usually involves an assessment of ‘disturbances’ and ‘degradation’. Disturbance typically refers to depletion of biomass or crown cover caused by one-time natural events, such as storms or fires. Whereas, degradation references human-induced impact, usually occurring over a longer time period, involving continuous or repeated events. The DIABOLO team have pointed out that previous efforts to monitor forests focused on the more straight-forward mapping of deforestation and regeneration. ‘Time series analysis’ is now perhaps regarded as the approach to forestry information gathering and mapping which yields the best operational data. But it does come with its own challenges. A recent review of the state of play by members of the DIABOLO project team, published by Current Forestry Reports, outlines some of the problems inherent in information gathering and processing. The team analysed mapping options for Europe’s temperate forests and Africa’s tropical evergreen forests.
Source: European Commission