Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1181–1202 | Cite as

How is adaptation to climate change reflected in current practice of forest management and conservation? A case study from Germany

  • Mirjam MiladEmail author
  • Harald Schaich
  • Werner Konold
Original Paper


Climate change is expected to challenge forest management and nature conservation in forests. Besides forest species, strategies and references for management and conservation will be affected. In this paper, we qualitatively analysed whether forest conservation and management practice have already adapted to the impacts of climate change and to what extent those practices reflect the adaptation strategies dealt with in international peer-reviewed literature. To this end, we conducted thirteen in-depth interviews with forest practitioners (forest officers/forest district officers) in four regions in Germany. The interview regions were selected to represent the variation in tree species composition, forest ownership regimes and vulnerability to climate change. Although interviewees claimed to take climate change and adaptation strategies into account, in practice such strategies have as yet only occasionally been implemented. Our results suggest that strategies for adapting forest management to climate change are just in the early stages of development or supplement existing strategies relating to general risk reduction or nature-orientated forest management. The extent to which climate change adaptation strategies have influenced overall management varies. This variation and the lack of specific strategies also reflect the existing uncertainties about future changes in climate and about the capacity of forest ecosystems to adapt. We conclude that, in the face of climate change, forest management will have a major influence on future biodiversity composition of forest ecosystems. Hence, a framework for conservation in forests providing recommendations which also take into account the consequences of climate change needs to be developed.


Climate change Biodiversity Adaptive management Forest conservation Forest management Europe 



This study is part of the project “Forests and Climate Change” (FKZ 3508 83 0600), funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) through its Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). We thank Emily Kilham for linguistic assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Landscape Management, Faculty of Forest- and Environmental SciencesUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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