In the last 15 years, increasing levels of wind damage to forests have been observed in areas of Europe where wind damage was not previously common (e.g. in the Basque Country, Poland and Latvia).
Similarly, the seasonality of these catastrophic events seems to be changing, with severe summer storms becoming increasingly common. These problems indicate that it is likely that statistical wind damage models will not be particularly suitable in a changing climate. However, the use of process-based models allows portability in space and time for different locations and in uncertain weather conditions. European experience in wind damage follows the historical geographical distribution of wind damage: forest productivity in northern countries has been affected for decades and process-based models such as ForestGALES have been developed in these countries to help improve forest management practices. An ideal way of transferring this knowledge to countries that are increasingly exposed to the risks of wind damage is that provided by recent developments in free and open source software (FOSS). As a result, many forest researchers have translated their models into FOSS languages such as R. It is now possible to link both risk and forest growth models based on FOSS processes to a FOSS GIS (geographic information systems) platform provided by the rapid development of QuantumGIS in recent years and, therefore, it is increasingly possible to remove operational and economic barriers between organisations. The commercial importance and wide European distribution of the Pinus species make it an ideal candidate for testing and applying a spatially explicit FOSS platform for modelling forest wind damage in a changing climate.