A cooperation on bark beetle management between France and Montenegro

On December 4, 2023, a webinar organized by NatureXpairs and the French Embassy in Montenegro provided an opportunity to share experiences on the management of the bark beetle crisis, which Montenegro has recently faced. The expertise of Jean Cacot (Forest laboratory of Bibracte), Laurent Lathuillière, Daphné Schloesser, Johan Rosset (National Nature Reserve of the Haute Chaîne du Jura), Mathieu Mirabel (Forest Health department – DRAAF Bourgogne Franche-Comté) and Nikola Besic (IGN – ENSG, Forest Inventory Laboratory) provided insights to a dedicated team from the Environmental Protection Agency of Montenegro (its Director, M. Milan Gazdic, accompanied by his forestry and GIS experts, as well as his senior advisor seconded from France). Technical dialogue on this subject will continue into 2024.

Initially triggered in the Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté regions in 2018, the bark beetle epidemic has now spread to almost all spruce forests in the northern half of France, and has also spread to Europe. Caused by small insects naturally present in our ecosystems, this crisis has been intensified by the exceptionally hot, dry springs and summers since 2018, leading to a proliferation of bark beetles in spruce forests. The resulting spruce mortality is altering the appearance of the forests and causing functional changes within the ecosystems.

Montenegro has been experiencing spruce mortality due to bark beetles since 2020, particularly in protected areas such as the Prokletije (Cursed Mountains) National Park. With tree-cutting considered a last resort in these protected areas, other management strategies are being considered by the Montenegrin Environmental Protection Agency, which has turned to the networks of French protected area managers, with the support of the French Embassy, to benefit from shared expertise and experience on the subject.

The Haute Chaîne du Jura National Nature Reserve (Laurent Lathuillière, Daphné Schloesser and Johan Rosset), the Bibracte Grand site de France forestry laboratory (Jean Cacot), the Forest Health Department of Bourgogne Franche-Comté (Mathieu Mirabel) and the IGN – ENSG forest inventory laboratory (Nikola Besic) were able to present the different strategies deployed within their respective territories.

The economic, ecological and societal impact of sanitary logging in protected areas was discussed, as was the decision not to intervene that has been made in some French forests, inviting us to focus on the causes of this crisis rather than on the bark beetle itself. Feedback on the use of pheromone traps was shared, concluding that these traps are useful above all for monitoring bark beetle swarming and thus targeting the periods when attack detection and harvesting of bark-affected wood should be carried out. Mortality monitoring methods using remote sensing have also been shared with Montenegro.

More generally, the bark beetle crisis raised questions among participants in this webinar about the desired future of our forests in protected areas. How can we act to make them more resilient to global change, enhance their functionality, preserve forest microclimates, accept more old wood and dead wood in forests, etc.? All these questions imply a major paradigm shift in current forest management practices in France and Montenegro, and require joint, shared reflection with all the players involved.

Building on this initial sharing of experience, the technical dialogue between France and Montenegro will continue in 2024.

To download the presentations click here

Funded by
NatureXpairs, the French Hub for Protected Areas & People
NatureXpairs, the French Hub for Protected Areas & People
NatureXpairs, the French Hub for Protected Areas & People
In support of
NatureXpairs, the French Hub for Protected Areas & People
The French Hub
for Protected Areas & People
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