My Garden of Trees: Smart Climate Forestry

My Garden of Trees

My Garden of Trees is a large scale, participative scientific project. Fir and beech seeds, coming from various forests across the continent, from Spain and France to Georgia and Iran, are tested for climate resilience in 25 areas across Europe.

The evolution of life on Earth is continually changing, at the timescale of millennia, but also on shorter term. Now we’re facing accelerated climate change, which press us to adopt new behaviours, to change our lifestyle – and present us with scientific hypotheses which require large-scale research.

As people migrate to find proper life conditions, so do the trees.

The forests of Europe make up 40% of the land ecosystems and shelter a great part of the European biodiversity. But given climate change, how will the trees adapt? How will the forests of the future look?

We’re trying to find out the answers by taking part in an European experiment.

Tiny experimental forestry gardens

On a test area in the forest fund of Varsag composesorate, impacted by windthrows in 2020, the first „forest gardens” in Romania were seeded this spring.

Kádár Tibor-Sándor, forester and member of the Foundation’s Board, is in charge of the experiment in Romania, with support from the Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation and assistance from Zetea Forest Management Unit.

The concept of Climate Smart Forestry means adapting our techniques and methods to increase the climate resilience of the forests in a given area, confronted with the effects of global warming,” Tibor explains. “Basically, we’re testing which beech and fir are better prepared to withstand climate change – those from the Alps, the Carpathians, the Balkans, or the Caucasus?

Each country taking part in the study receives seeds from the other countries and will monitor and report data on the seedlings’ development. The project is supported by the European Commission, the lead scientists come from the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

The hypothesis being tested is that forest management strategies to help European forests adapt to climate change might include intentional movements of members of a given species from different areas. This strategy is called assisted migration – the human-assisted movement of populations and species outside their natural range to mitigate climate change.

In order to study this, and create a predictive instrument for foresters across Europe, such experimental gardens are seeded all over the continent.

It’s a real scientific experiment, done live – just not in the lab.

Tiny gardens seeded by tiny gardeners

In summary, observations carried out in these tiny forest gardens will help foresters to create forests better adapted to mitigate climate change, and support sustainable forestry in European countries.

The study protocol consists in preparing a bed roughly the size of A4 paper, where 10 seeds are placed,” says Tibor. “Each batch is tagged and covered with metallic seed protectors which are fixed to the ground – to keep away all the critters in the area that might nibble the seeds.

We had great helpers in the field: third grade students from the Arts School dr. Palló Imre in Odorheiu Secuiesc/ Székelyudvarhely, guided by their teacher Benkő Katalin. The children not only seeded the tiny gardens, but sang a song to the seeds, so that they will germinate more quickly 😊

For five years, the gardens will be monitored, and the seedlings’ development will be reported using mobile apps, in sync across the project.

The responsible forestry programme of the Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation supports and develops projects and initiatives that contribute to sustainable forest management (including forest certification), wood traceability, low-impact forestry, reforestation and protection of biodiversity-rich areas.

We also support education, research, development and innovation in forestry and wood processing industry, and our main focus are projects centred on students.

Would you like to help us continue responsible forestry projects? Please consider making a small donation to the Foundation.