The Working Party calls attention to the role of protective forests in a changing climate


The 32nd session of the European Forestry Commission (EFC) Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds (WPMMW) was held in Innsbruck, Austria, from 25 to 27 September 2019. Jointly organized by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this three-day event encompassed a Working Party session, an expert conference and a field trip. The outcome of the session will be a publication with a comprehensive collection of EFC country reports on the Protective Functions of Forests in 2020.

The opening session included presentations from focal points of 11 countries, who gave an overview of protective forests and mountain watershed management in their countries. All participants emphasized the important role that protective forests play in mitigating the impact of natural hazards, such as avalanches, debris flow events and mudslides, especially in mountainous regions.

Florian Rudolf-Miklau, current chairperson of the Working Party Austrian Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, underlined the relevance of the session: “The protective function of forests is an essential ecosystem service. Transnational cooperation helps to exchange knowledge about the management of these services in a complex society under the pressure of global change.”

The “Protective Functions of Forests in a Changing Climate” conference was attended by 75 delegates, lecturers, researchers and observers from 18 countries. Speakers highlighted a wide range of approaches regarding protective forests, including policy, adaptation strategies in Europe and the sustainable management of protective forests.

Working Party organizers from the government of Tyrol guided participants on a field excursion to Stubai Valley, the main valley of the Stubai Alps, where they discussed natural hazards and the complexity of managing protective forests on public and private lands in the Alpine area.

Yuka Makino, Team Leader of the Water and Mountains Team and Coordinator of the Working Party Secretariat, highlighted the importance of protective forests when closing the event: “Climate change is affecting mountain forests. Forest fires, increased precipitation, invasive species and changes in timber line are some of the issues being currently faced. The management of mountain forests needs to evolve due to the changing conditions, and this conference was an opportunity to share and learn from experiences across regions.”

More information about the conference was published here.

To learn more about the European Forestry Commission Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds, click here.

The final report of the 32nd session will be available soon at the following website:

Photo from ©Land Tirol

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