Significant increase in natural disturbance impacts on European forests since 1950

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Marco Patacca - , Wageningen University & Research (WUR) (Autor:in)
  • Marcus Lindner - , European Forest Institute (Autor:in)
  • Manuel Esteban Lucas-Borja - , University of Castilla-La Mancha (Autor:in)
  • Thomas Cordonnier - , Université Grenoble Alpes (Autor:in)
  • Gal Fidej - , University of Ljubljana (Autor:in)
  • Barry Gardiner - , European Forest Institute, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (Autor:in)
  • Ylva Hauf - , Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Autor:in)
  • Gediminas Jasinevičius - , European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute (Autor:in)
  • Sophie Labonne - , Université Grenoble Alpes (Autor:in)
  • Edgaras Linkevičius - , Vytautas Magnus University (Autor:in)
  • Mats Mahnken - , Professur für Waldwachstum und Produktion von Holzbiomasse, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Autor:in)
  • Slobodan Milanovic - , University of Belgrade, Mendel University in Brno (Autor:in)
  • Gert Jan Nabuurs - , Wageningen University & Research (WUR) (Autor:in)
  • Thomas A. Nagel - , University of Ljubljana (Autor:in)
  • Laura Nikinmaa - , European Forest Institute, KU Leuven (Autor:in)
  • Momchil Panyatov - , University of Forestry (Autor:in)
  • Roman Bercak - , Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (Autor:in)
  • Rupert Seidl - , Technische Universität München, Nationalpark Berchtesgaden (Autor:in)
  • Masa Zorana Ostrogović Sever - , European Forest Institute (Autor:in)
  • Jaroslaw Socha - , University of Agriculture in Krakow (Autor:in)
  • Dominik Thom - , University of Forestry, University of Vermont (Autor:in)
  • Dijana Vuletic - , European Forest Institute (Autor:in)
  • Sergey Zudin - , European Forest Institute (Autor:in)
  • Mart-Jan Schelhaas - , Wageningen University & Research (WUR) (Autor:in)


Over the last decades, the natural disturbance is increasingly putting pressure on European forests. Shifts in disturbance regimes may compromise forest functioning and the continuous provisioning of ecosystem services to society, including their climate change mitigation potential. Although forests are central to many European policies, we lack the long-term empirical data needed for thoroughly understanding disturbance dynamics, modeling them, and developing adaptive management strategies. Here, we present a unique database of >170,000 records of ground-based natural disturbance observations in European forests from 1950 to 2019. Reported data confirm a significant increase in forest disturbance in 34 European countries, causing on an average of 43.8 million m3 of disturbed timber volume per year over the 70-year study period. This value is likely a conservative estimate due to under-reporting, especially of small-scale disturbances. We used machine learning techniques for assessing the magnitude of unreported disturbances, which are estimated to be between 8.6 and 18.3 million m3/year. In the last 20 years, disturbances on average accounted for 16% of the mean annual harvest in Europe. Wind was the most important disturbance agent over the study period (46% of total damage), followed by fire (24%) and bark beetles (17%). Bark beetle disturbance doubled its share of the total damage in the last 20 years. Forest disturbances can profoundly impact ecosystem services (e.g., climate change mitigation), affect regional forest resource provisioning and consequently disrupt long-term management planning objectives and timber markets. We conclude that adaptation to changing disturbance regimes must be placed at the core of the European forest management and policy debate. Furthermore, a coherent and homogeneous monitoring system of natural disturbances is urgently needed in Europe, to better observe and respond to the ongoing changes in forest disturbance regimes.


Seiten (von - bis)1359-1376
FachzeitschriftGlobal change biology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - März 2023

Externe IDs

PubMed 36504289


Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung


  • bark beetles, climate change, empirical disturbance data, European forests, fire, forest natural disturbances, windstorms