A.7 The database and information technology system of forest protection monitoring and forest damage data for the past 30 years

Project manager: György Csóka (FRI)

 

Research plan

 

Analysis of field:

 

In Hungary regular data collection has been in progress for more than 50 years concerning the damage that took place in our forests. People working in silviculture report the damage events happening in the forests they maintain 4 times a year. The reports are checked, summed up and evaluated by the scientists of the Department of Forest Protection in the Forest Research Institute. Based on these data they compile a so called prognosis booklet yearly, which contains on the one hand the sum of the given year’s domestic forest damage, and on the other hand the forecast of the probable forest damage in the following year.

 

For almost 3 decades, on permanent study plots – currently about 150 plots - the FRI’s Department of Forest Protection have examined the health conditions of individually registered sample trees. These monitoring plots are assigned on the one hand systematically (in points of a lattice – FPN), and in case of certain tree species of great importance (e.g. Cornish oak and beech) expediently. The National Forest Service (currently CAO Forestry Board) also practiced systematic forest health condition monitoring (4x4 km, later 16x16 km network). The maintenance and operation of the latter has been appointed to the FRI’s scope of duties from 2011.

 

The task of creating a nationwide game damage monitoring network arose in 2002 at the National Forest Service. The Service appointed the Institute of Wildlife Management of the University of West Hungary’s Faculty of Forestry to work out a methodology for the survey, and it immediately started the data collection on field (Náhlik, 2002). In the elapsed period only a partially evaluated database was established which could be suitable for the analysis of the effects of climate change on game damage.

 

The problem supporting the necessity of research:

 

It is becoming more and more obvious that the weather anomalies fundamentally determine our forests’ health condition and productivity. Based on the existing data series both the biotic and the abiotic forest damage show a definite increasing trend in Hungary (Hirka és Csóka 2008, 2010). The land occupation of certain tree species (e.g. spruce) has decreased dramatically due to forest damage (especially woodworm damage) in the last couple of decades (Lakatos 1997). For the sake of our forestry’s long-term elective nature, the determination of the suitable forest regeneration methods and the tree species to be used in forest regenerations, it is crucial to be able to make the most well-established predictions possible in relation to the health condition changes in the forests. Forward pruning of this kind can be done only by leaning on reliable base data. The analysis of the forest damage taken place and the data collected on the forest protection monitoring plots make it possible for us to predict the probable tendencies in our forests’ health conditions by assuming the occurrence of predicted climactic changes.

 

A further fact that needs to be mentioned as well is that beside the increasing damage trends, alien pests and pathogens appear in our forests at an accelerating pace, which also increase the risk of future damage in our forests (Lakatos & Kajimura 2007, Szabóky & Csóka 2003, 2007, Ripka 2010, Csóka & Hirka 2011). For the promotion of early recognition and prompt measures there is need for a “Standard Hungarian database of newcomer forest pests and pathogens”. That is, based on the literature and our own data we need to collect and systematize a freely available database that contains information on the newcomer insect species and pathogens that have appeared in Hungary (primarily the ones that are significant from the point of view of forestry). The content of this database is among others the name of the species, its taxonomy, the native proliferation, damage potential on the indigenous areas, foodplants on the indigenous areas, Hungarian foodplants, time of appearance in Hungary, data concerning the proliferation in Hungary, Hungarian damage potential, natural enemies, domestic and significant foreign literature, etc. It is practical to expand the database not only to Hungary but partially to the neighbouring countries as well.

 

The scale of game damage in forests is demonstrably affected by the winter weather and its extremes (Náhlik et al. 2002, Náhlik et al. 2005), therefore it might be significant from the point of view of the prediction of future game damage to disclose these connections.

 

Aim of research:

 

- The analysis of health condition trends in the examined region’s forests in the last 3 decades, its comparison with nationwide tendencies

- The analysis of the connections between health condition trends and weather conditions in nationwide comparison

- Compilation and analysis of a database of newcomer forest insects and pathogens

- The examination of the connections between game damage and winter weather

- Prediction of the nature, frequency and degree of future forest damage based on climate change scenarios

 

Research plan:

 

We intend to conduct the research based on Zala and Vas county forest damage data series primarily, and in the case of game damage on nationwide data, furthermore, on data collected on the forest protection monitoring points (approx. 25) in the mentioned counties. The trends observed here will be compared to the nationwide tendencies. The available data series of 20-25 years give opportunity to trend analyses, and to draw conclusions compared with weather variables concerning the dependence of forest damage forms on the weather. The opportunity of studying such long data series is valuable from a scientific point of view as well. We conduct the analyses in relation to the following damage forms:

 

Forest damage database

- Abiotic damage: draught, fire, storm and frost damage

- Insect damage: total insect damage, woodworm, moth, inchworms, oak processionary moth, brow-tail, weevils, cockchafers

- Damage caused by fungi: pine sprouts destruction, oak mildew

- Quantity and quality damage caused by big game species

- Complex damage: oak, beech and pine destruction

 

We analyse the annual damage areas on the examined areas in correlation with the known draught indexes (PDI, FAI) in relation with the listed damage and damage groups. In some cases (e.g. insects, big game species, complex destruction) the development of specific weather indexes (damage specific weather indexes) will be necessary, as it is obvious that the weather factors that induce damage, and the destruction of different tree species, are not alike.

 

With the data collected on the monitoring points we correlate the canopy gap, bud and sprout damage values of sample trees and the general health condition index-numbers with the abovementioned weather index-numbers regarding the given years, and also taking into consideration the cumulative effects of the weather (2-3-4 years long cumulative effect, moving averages, etc.).

 

We plan the timing of the research according to what follows:

 

1. quarter: Filtering the damage data, integration into the database, filtering the data of monitoring plots, acquisition of weather data and their organization into the database, establishment of a newcomer pest and pathogen database.

2. quarter: Examination of abiotic damage trends and their comparison with nationwide trends. Newcomer pest and pathogen database improvement and displaying on the Internet.

3. quarter: Examination of biotic damage trends and their comparison with nationwide trends. Newcomer pest and pathogen database improvement.

4. quarter: Statistic analysis and evaluation of weather reliance of biotic and abiotic damage trends. Summing up the results, writing of studies and publications.

 

Data to be used, partners:

 

The collaborating partners of the outlined research are the FRI and the UWH FF. The damage data and the data of the monitoring networks are available at the FRI Department of Forest Protection, the UWH ISFP and the CAO Forestry Board. The weather base data needed for the analyses are ensured by the present subprogram’s A2 and A6 subtasks. The statistic analysis of the data and connections is conducted in the scope of the FRI and the UWH.