After several years with long periods of drought, the Dutch national forest management service (Staatsbosbeheer) is realising that climate-adaptive forest management is important. Together with the Union of Forest Groups (Unie van Bosgroepen), Wageningen University and the association Probos (‘pro-forest’), the national forest management service and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) support pilot projects to diversify and rejuvenate forests to enhance drought-resilience, quicken growth and improve carbon capture, and make the forest more attractive for recreation. Wageningen University and Probos researchers also put together an online ‘Toolkit Climate-smart Forest Management’ (‘Gereedschapskist Klimaatslim Bosbeheer’) with tools that support forest and landscape managers in choosing climate-smart forest design measures.
Overall, the level of action needed to turn towards full-scale climate-adaptive forest management has not yet been achieved, however. Some potential adaptive management strategies are known, although the discussion between high-intensity management (e.g. planting drought- and heat-resistant tree species and varieties, increase genetic variation in managed forests, and extensive afforestation) and low-intensity management (e.g. focusing on the multiple ecosystem services of the forest and letting the forests evolve gradually and (semi-)naturally to the changing climate) is not settled. Moreover, knowledge is lacking about how particular tree species/varieties adapt to climate change, and about distributional shifts of species because of climate change. Risk analysis, tracking and monitoring of climate-adaptive forest management deserve more attention. Moreover, conflicting interests (e.g. timber production, nature conservation, recreation and CO2 capture) create dilemmas that make fast and consensual action difficult.