Mountain forests have been undergoing significant changes for several decades already, due to a range of social, economic and environmental factors.
Although the history of Pyrenean forests bears witness to the fact that change is the norm rather than the exception, the changes we are currently observing have never been so rapid and mankind has never been so acutely aware of their impact.
This explains why the climatic, biological and social factors in which forests are poised to develop remain largely unpredictable, even more so in the Pyrenees mountain range, where these questions are particularly important.
Regarding our understanding of these forest stands, the “Forest” project led by the Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory from 2011 to 2014 provided us with an overview of the impacts of climate change on the mountain range’s wooded areas, taking into consideration the range of data available.
This project provided forest managers and owners and institutional officials with a series of indicators regarding the impacts of climate change on Pyrenean forest stands: monitoring of the phenology of the various forest species found in the Pyrenees (whose variation depends solely on the climate), changes in defoliation and distribution according to climatic area.
The CANOPEE project aims to continue monitoring these indicators and extend the network to the southern slopes, for which there is still a lack of data.
Concerning the distribution of species, it is important to note that studies already conducted in France and Spain on the effect of climate change on the potential future distribution of varieties or their vulnerability mainly adopt a regional or national perspective; consequently, the Pyrenees – in both countries and on each of the two major slopes – are only marginally present within the scope, which means that the validity of the models is probably less accurate and the results less pertinent and more difficult to exploit.
CANOPEE aims to provide forest managers and country planning authorities were the tools they require to identify vulnerable areas and anticipate future forest cover.
Finally, on the basis of the aspects described above, it would appear essential to put in place silviculture practices that promote species that are resistant to climate change or have a higher degree of resilience, by employing adaptive management practices in the areas concerned.
The main objective of the project is to ensure, in a context of global change, the long-term future of the current and future goods and services provided by the forest ecosystems in the Pyrenees.
Monitor the impacts of climate change on Pyrenean forest land.
Develop shared tools for diagnosing and ensuring ongoing vigilance.
Implement an adaptive forest management strategy in order to reduce the expected impacts of climate change.
These objectives will be fulfilled through three major actions:
OBSERVE: understand the effects of climate change on Pyrenean forests and use this knowledge as a decision-making tool
The overall goal of this action is to improve the physiological diagnosis (phenology and decline) of the main varieties found in Pyrenean forests. The phenology will be studied via plots of land located on both sides of the Pyrenees, using a common monitoring protocol.
Decline will be studied using the ARCHI method, which is innovative in the sense that it assesses the resilience of trees. A smartphone app will be created for forest managers.
DIAGNOSE: changes in the distribution of forest species found in the Pyrenees and diagnosis of the vulnerability of Pyrenean forests with respect to climate change
Using the modelling method, the goal of the action is to assess the impact of the various climate change scenarios on the potential areas in which the main Pyreanean forest species will be distributed and the predicted gradual displacement of those species. Consequently, the action will enable us to determine the forests’ vulnerability with respect to the various scenarios and to identify the most vulnerable forest species.
ACT: propose and implement appropriate measures to help vulnerable areas adapt to the effects of climate change
The action intends to select a series of forests which are representative of the mountain range and potentially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and which are showing signs of decline, in order to put in place adaptive forest management practices to reduce the vulnerability of those forest stands in the context of climate change. In addition, the consequences of the actions implemented in terms of water resources will also be assessed.
This initial result will involve the setting up of common monitoring protocols and the development of common decision-making tools for forest managers on both sides of the mountain range. These tools will constitute a basis for putting together common adaptation strategies.
This result will enable us to observe the distribution of forest species across the mountain range, their sensitivity to the phenomenon of decline and their degree of resilience.
This result will enable us to implement a panel of forestry adaptation measures in vulnerable areas, based on the various management recommendations.
• Office National des Forêts (National Forests Office)
• Centre National de la Proprieté Forestière (French forest owners’ institution)
• HAZI Fundazioa foundation
• Centre Tecnologic Forestier de Catalogne
• Centre de la Propieté Forestière de Catalogne (Forest owners’ institution of Catalonia)
• Intitut Pyrénéen d’Ecologie (Pyrenean ecology institute)
• Gestion Environnementale de Navarre (Environmental management in Navarre)
• Institut d’Etudes Andorran (Andorra studies institute)
• Centre de coopération international de recherche agronomique pour le développement (French agricultural research and international cooperation organisation)
• Observatoire Pyrénéen du Changement Climatique (Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory)
• Gouvernement d’Aragon (Aragon government)
The project has been 65% cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg V-A Spain France Andorra programme (POCTEFA 2014-2020). POCTEFA aims to reinforce the economic and social integration of the French–Spanish–Andorran border. Its support is focused on developing economic, social and environmental cross-border activities through joint strategies favouring sustainable territorial development.