Category 4: Silviculture and sustainable forest management – Københavns Universitet

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Category 4: Silviculture and sustainable forest management

CATEGORY 4 RESEARCH TOPICS:

4.1     Uncertainty in large area estimation of forest carbon

4.2     Applying the FAO land use definitions framework to remote sensing: translating quantitative definition criteria into automated image analysis

4.3     Are large trees key elements of carbon storage and fluxes after selective logging in tropical rainforests?

4.4     Forest and hydrogeomorphic processes in hilly and mountain watersheds: management strategies to mitigate the impact of floods.

4.5     Microbial communities in forest soil and rhizosphere: a bridge connecting forest health and sustainable management

4.6     Restoration of degraded forests: Regeneration of valuable and nut-bearing trees by direct seeding

4.1 Uncertainty in large area estimation of forest carbon
Forest monitoring is a crucial element of national reporting commitments to the international conventions. Forest carbon monitoring is at the core of REDD+ and quality of carbon figures is a core issues in developing MRV-systems. The challenge to reliably quantify uncertainty in estimating carbon is among the major obstacles for an efficient implementation of carbon forestry. While many estimation approaches are being published in particular based on remotely sensed data, there is no standardized or generally accepted approach to uncertainty assessment yet nor is there agreement on acceptable levels of uncertainty. In this research, a comprehensive error simulation framework shall be developed, implemented and analyzed. This simulation framework allows then a detailed assessment (1) of the role of different error sources, (2) how the errors potentially propagate to the total variability of estimates, (3) how they can be reduced, and (4) what the cost implications are. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the quantification of uncertainty and to the identification of cost-efficient approaches to reduction of overall uncertainty. Data sets for a reality check are available in Göttingen from various regions. The candidates are welcome to bring their own datasets, if available.
Principal supervisor at University of Göttingen
Co-supervisor at University of Copenhagen

4.2 Applying the FAO land use definitions framework to remote sensing: translating quantitative definition criteria into automated image analysis
Forest area is a core variable in national monitoring for carbon dynamics and biodiversity conservation. While FAO has suggested a forest definition for their global forest statistics, there is still much debate about a suitable operational forest definition for national reporting. While it is acknowledged that this is above all a political issue, there are various challenging research questions, including the question how to compatibly translate the quantitative and qualitative criteria of a forest definition as used for forest inventory (example: FAO definition) into automated forest mapping from remote sensing. It is not intuitively straightforward how to implement the criteria of minimum crown cover (10% in FAO definition), minimum area (0.5ha) and minimum height (5m at maturity in situ). Not many remote sensing based forest mapping studies carry an explicit statement about the underlying forest definition or about the definition of forest edge. Research in this project shall develop algorithms of image analysis that support implementing explicit forest definitions into remote sensing based forest mapping. This will eventually lead to immediate compatibility of field sampling based forest area estimates and remote sensing based forest mapping.
Principal supervisor at University of Göttingen
Co-supervisor at University of Copenhagen


4.3 Are large trees key elements of carbon storage and fluxes after selective logging in tropical rainforests?
Most of the world forests are disturbed and identification of silvicultural systems able to preserve ecosystem services furnished by tropical forests in the context of climate change is crucial. However, the capacity of managed forests to maintain long-term sustainability of tropical forest product and related ecosystem services is still poorly known - most published data related to carbon storage and fluxes in tropical forests are for primary undisturbed forests. An important impact of selective logging is removal of the biggest trees leading to loss of biomass with significant consequences in the biomass net balance of the stand. This study will assess the poorly studied role of tree size in the processes of above ground biomass dynamics after selective logging in a tropical rainforests of the Amazon, Congo Basin and South East Asia. Based on these results specific silvicultural recommendations to improve the above ground biomass balance of managed forests will be proposed. Key research questions are: How the dynamics of big trees influence the carbon fluxes of tropical forest stands after logging? What is the contribution of big trees to the carbon balance of a tropical forest stand after logging? Are there thresholds in logging intensity to improve carbon fluxes after logging?
Principal supervisor at AgroParisTech
Co-supervisors at University of Copenhagen

4.4 Forest and hydrogeomorphic processes in hilly and mountain watersheds: management strategies to mitigate the impact of floods.
The first organized actions to protect land in the Alps date back to the sixteenth century. Consolidation check-dams against bed erosion were placed in the upper part of watersheds, while retention check-dams were built in the fan apex. Riverine forest management was warranted by logging and need of firewood. A combination of several factors exacerbated the impact of natural hydrogeomorphic processes in last decades due to interaction between flow and unmanaged riparian forest. A global strategy of protection is mandatory in watersheds where numeric disequilibrium exists between inhabitants and temporary users. A field analysis is proposed in the Dolomites (Italy) to collect data addressing the forest management as an active protection against flood risks. A comparative experience is encouraged in basins (Wales) where protective actions in creeks are more rare. Key research questions are: (i) assessment of a suitable methodology of field survey to drive the management of forest and woody debris in creeks and adjacent hill slopes; (ii) interactions between riparian forest and dominant hydrogeomorphic processes (shallow landslides, bank-bed instabilities, sediment transport, debris flow, hill slope-channel coupling); (iii) development of a model that, given the state of a mountain watershed, predicts the flood impact for different scenarios of hydro-forestry management.
Principal supervisor at University of Padova
Co-supervisor at Bangor University

4.5 Microbial communities in forest soil and rhizosphere: a bridge connecting forest health and sustainable management
Recent studies have emphasized the importance of the microbial communities in regulation of ecosystem resistance and resilience. However, while much information is available on population biology of some individual pathogens and mutualists, their interactions and interdependencies are still poorly defined. In addition, the effects of forest management actions on the pathogen-mutualistic interactions have rarely been explored using modern laboratory analysis techniques. This project aims at increasing our understanding of the functional relationships in forest soil microbiome, which powers the complex biochemistry of nutrient cycling, and can be beneficial or detrimental to the health and productivity of forests. Key questions are: (i) do the functional traits (e.g. ability to utilize C- and N- substrates) of forest soil and rhizosphere microbial communities determine stand health status or regeneration success (seedling stress, mortality and establishment); and (ii) how do the different soil preparation regimes affect the soil and rhizosphere microbial communities. Methods to be employed are phenotype microarrays to study utilization of C, N and P substrates by the microbes, community analyses by culture-dependent and independent (DGGE and 454 sequencing) methods, microscopy and chromatographic analyses. The results will help bridge the community processes and sustainable silviculture.
Principal supervisor at University of Padova
Co-supervisor at Swedish University of Agriculture

4.6 Restoration of degraded forests: Regeneration of valuable and nut-bearing trees by direct seeding
There is a need to compensate for forest clearance into degraded ecosystems that erode environmental services and contribute to climate change. Thus, to fulfil needs for wood and biomass production as well as environmental and climatic targets, there is globally an ambition to restore 150 million hectares of forest by 2020. Regeneration of valuable and nut-bearing trees using planting is expensive and cost effective methods are needed. Direct seeding may reduce the cost by more than 50% compared to planting. However, a significant disadvantage is the often high consumption and dispersal rates of seeds by granivorous rodents, which use olfactory cues to detect buried seeds. The aim of this interdisciplinary project is to increase the knowledge on how rodents find buried seeds. We intent to conduct both laboratory and field experiments within the research disciplines Animal Ecology and Silviculture. Key research questions are: (i) how can we control seed predation by granivorous rodents in an environmentally friendly way? and (ii) what silvicultural measures are appropriate to minimize seed predation? Results from this project may lead to innovative regeneration methods and are of particular interest for forest restoration in the temperate- and tropical zones.
Principal supervisor at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Co-supervisor at University of Copenhagen