Assisted Migration to increase Forest Resilience in NWE

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4,264,794.79 €
EU Funding
7,107,991.32 €
Total Budget
Belgium, Germany and France

Project summary

Humanity largely depends on the ecosystem services provided by forests. They need to be protected from the increasing disturbances caused by climate change. Forests represent significant proportion of NWE land (23% in Belgium, 27% in France, 32% in Germany). Climate change, through an increase in duration, frequency, and intensity of extreme events (particularly heatwaves), is a major threat to those ecosystems. Currently, 60% of forests are covered with the most sensitive tree species (beech, spruce, oak, etc.) and their decline is being increasingly observed. A series of measures can be taken to strengthen our forest ecosystems and make them more resilient to future changes. Assisted migration, defined as "the movement of species and populations to facilitate the natural expansion of their range in response to climate change", is one of them. Climate change forces species to adapt and move to the North to track suitable conditions. However, the rate of current changes does not enable trees to migrate sufficiently quickly. In this context, the role of foresters will be to imitate nature and speed up their work by artificially accelerating trees migration.


The project aims to deploy assisted migration of tree species at the scale of the NWE territory, for a better anticipation of climate change and an improved resilience of the forest ecosystem in a cross-border approach, by integrating the concept of functional complex network.

Assisted migration (AM) : what is it all about ?

MigFoRest only considers the movement of provenance and species from Europe. This is a strict vision of AM, which refers to the speeding of a natural phenomenon of species migration in response to climate change. Intercontinental movements are excluded, and the species suggested are indigenous to the target region (e.g. southern provenances of sessile oak) or to nearby regions (e.g. oriental beech). The risks associated with such introductions, particularly invasiveness, are minimized and closely monitored. This action should not be confused with a massive introduction of totally new species from other continents.

The functional complex network approach

The functional complex network approach aims at increasing the resilience of forests by maximising their resistance and their recovery potential from major disturbances. In the context of AM, the planting distribution is optimized through the strategic establishment at landscape level of species or provenances resistant to climate change. The planting efforts are distributed to maximise diversity and its spread across the landscape. It can therefore be seen as a form of “vaccination” of the landscape against disturbances caused by climate change.

Expected results

  • The development of a common strategy for implementing AM in NWE.
  • The identification of the tree species concerned, including analysis of their biological potential, invasiveness and genetic diversity.
  • The deployment of AM in different territories in Belgium, France and Germany, including the planting of at least 100,000 trees.
  • The creation of 3 seed orchards to supply forest managers in the future.
  • The development of a tailor-made awareness-raising and training material for target audiences: public authorities, forest owners and managers, nurserymen and the general public.

The partners, which are sharing the same North Maritine climate, will develop joint responses to a problem that transcends borders, drawing on the results of local experience and providing solutions to strengthen the resilience of our forests.

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