Thepersistent drought and heat of the summer 2003 combined – in many regions – withminor precipitation in the preceding winter and spring have caused severedamages in forests in western, southern and central Europe. Besides visible,immediate or short-term impacts of drought and heat on forests, such as browncolouring and early fall of leaves as well as total disturbance of particularlyyoung stands, there are further (still invisible) effects to be expected in longterm. They are related to tree physiology, soil properties and nutrientavailability in soils and trees, as well as to the root system reducing treegrowth and vitality in the following years, having an impact on environmental,social and economic goods and services provided by forests. While numerousinvestigations have been undertaken on each of those topics, a synthesis aboutdrought effects on forests taking different climatic scenarios intoconsideration is urgently needed. For thispurpose, French and German scientists have initiated an expertise Drought2003 involving scientists of different disciplines, and resulting in thisinternational scientific conference.
Therelation between drought and the occurence of wildland fires will be highlightedin two presentations by the EuropeanForest Fires Information System (EFFIS) and the Fire Ecology Research Group /Global Fire Monitoring Center.