This study compiles and summarizes the existing knowledge about observed and projected impacts of climate change on forests in Europe. Forests will have to adapt not only to changes in mean climate variables but also to increased variability with greater risk of extreme weather events, such as prolonged drought, storms and floods. Sensitivity, potential impacts, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability to climate change are reviewed for European forests. The most important potential impacts of climate change on forest goods and services are summarized for the Boreal, Temperate Oceanic, Temperate Continental, Mediterranean, and mountainous regions. Especially in northern and western Europe the increasing atmospheric CO 2 content and warmer temperatures are expected to result in positive effects on forest growth and wood production, at least in the short–medium term. On the other hand, increasing drought and disturbance risks will cause adverse effects. These negative impacts are very likely to outweigh positive trends in southern and eastern Europe. From west to east, the drought risk increases. In the Mediterranean regions productivity is expected to decline due to strongly increased droughts and fire risks. Adaptive capacity consists of the inherent adaptive capacity of trees and forest ecosystems and of socio-economic factors determining the capability to implement planned adaptation. The adaptive capacity in the forest sector is relatively large in the Boreal and the Temperate Oceanic regions, more constrained by socio-economic factors in the Temperate Continental, and most limited in the Mediterranean region where large forest areas are only extensively managed or unmanaged. Potential impacts and risks are best studied and understood with respect to wood production. It is clear that all other goods and services provided by European forests will also be impacted by climate change, but much less knowledge is available to quantify these impacts. Understanding of adaptive capacity and regional vulnerability to climate change in European forests is not well developed and requires more focussed research efforts. An interdisciplinary research agenda integrated with monitoring networks and projection models is needed to provide information at all levels of decision making, from policy development to the management unit.
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