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alpessudToday, the Swiss forestry association (SFV) celebrated its 175th anniversary. Founded in 1843, three decades before the enactment of the first forest law in Switzerland (Forestry Police in high mountains law, 1876), the association was founded to counter overexploitation of mountain forests, which increasingly led to flooding hazards. A major objective of the SFV back then was, and still is, defined as the conservation of forests to ensure a sustainable protection against natural hazards, such as torrential floods, snow avalanches, rockfall, shallow landslides and excessive erosion. Today, in addition, forests have to produce sufficient wood and fiber resources (e.g., as a piece in the huge puzzle of the solution for today's plastic pollution problem), they supply biodiversity, recreation and drinking water and have a cooling effect during heat waves, which increasingly occur.

During the opening speech of the anniversary seminar "Visions for the forest", Doris Leuthard, Swiss Minister of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, stressed the importance of the role forests play in reducing natural hazard risks. Moreover, climate change complicates the task of properly managing these protection forests, since intensities and frequencies of natural hazards increase in given areas. At the same time, disturbances, such as droughts, forest fires, or invasive insects and tree species gain importance as well, she said. Especially in combination with all other services forests need to provide, the task becomes complex and the potential for future conflicts is rising. Solutions can be found by teaming up policy makers, practitioners and scientists. Right there, associations such as SFV and ecorisQ can provide an enourmous added-value by taking the lead in connecting and mobilising experience and scientific knowledge.

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January 2018 was an unusually warm and wet month across the Western Alps, with widespread landslides at low elevations and massive snowfall higher up. According to a comment published in Nature Geoscience, this extreme month yields lessons for how mountain communities can prepare for a warmer future. The weather of January 2018 was unusual - at the upper extreme of the historical distribution of storminess, temperature and precipitation measurements in the Western Alps – and broke many weather records. Not only was January 2018 unprecedentedly warm, but it was also extremely wet with unusual snowfall at higher elevations. As regional climate models predict substantial warming and, to a lesser extent, increased precipitation across the European Alps, the authors argue that the extreme weather conditions and associate mass wasting observed during January 2018 could yield valuable insights into typical winter conditions to be expected by the end of the 21st century.

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Water security is key to achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, increasingly the world is facing water shortages, and an estimated four billion people do not have sufficient access to safe and reliable water. Forests influence water resources in multiple ways, and at multiple levels. Whereas the interplay between forests and climate is regularly considered in decision-making, that between water and forests remains under-represented. Today, the fact that the world has mobilised around the seventeen SDGs, all of which have a connection to water, provides a crucial argument for paying more attention to the forest-water link. A link that remained under-represented until today. 

Today, the 10th of July 2018, the IUFRO (Int. Union of forest research organizations) launshed a newly published report entitled “Forest and Water on a Changing Planet: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Governance Opportunities. This constitutes the most comprehensive systematic scientific syntheses on the interactions between forests and water on the global level to date. Presenting the results of the sixth global scientific assessment undertaken in the framework of Global Forest expert panels (GFEP), the report provides a structured synthesis on the state of the knowledge on the forest-water relationship.

More than 50 scientists from 20 countries contributed to this major assessment of the climate-forests-water-people link, contextually shaped by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This assessment report and the accompanying policy brief, provide an authoritative source of information for policymakers and stakeholders, to support effective implementation of the forest-water policies.

 

New in SOSlope version 1.3.9 July 2018:

  • Added new tree specie: Betula pendula (Birch)
  • Added display of soil USCS parameters in drop-down menu
  • Fixed bugs in some tree specie implementation
  • Removed message log during run for increased speed performance

The audience of the Norwegian Broadcasting chose the stretch between Bergen and Voss of the E16 highway, which currently serves as the main highway connecting the West Coast to eastern Norway and the highly populated Oslo area, as Norway's worst road. This is not only due to the more than 40 traffic casualties and several hundred injured, but also to repeated closures after landslides and rockfall.

Considering the traffic volume of about 5,000 cars a day, the need for action along the road is given, since frequent rockfalls and landslides are a source of insecurity for travelers and for freight transport. The Norwegian Road Administration has identified a first set of hazard reduction measures for about 100 million NOK. A completely new road with long tunnels connecting Bergen and Voss would cost 33 billion NOK according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.