Core research areas and staffing – Københavns Universitet

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Core research areas and staffing

Copenhagen (Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning (FLD), Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen)

Environmental economics and policy in forest and nature management
Environmental benefits from forest and nature management become more and more emphasised, in both developed and developing countries. Policies on the environment should be based on economic valuation of the potential environmental goods and services it does not suffice to consider costs only. The theory of environmental economics has been much developed in later years, but there is still ample scope for research. And there is a great need for making theory applicable to practice. Present research at FLD covers a wide range of environmental economics theory and it has been demonstrated that valuation is often very complex and has to be done with great care. The range of potentially relevant types of environmental benefit is wide, comparison of values may be problematic, stakeholders are not easily identifiable. It is a great challenge to make environmental economic analyses feasible and acceptable to decision-makers at many levels.

Conservation and biodiversity management of forest and nature
In developed as well as developing countries, there is increasing emphasis on conservation of forest and nature areas with the aim of preserving and furthering biodiversity. The usual threats to such areas are over-exploitation and development into other uses of less or no biodiversity, to which must now be added climate change induced transformations. Conservation measures are often very expensive, either in direct or offer costs. Present research at FLD on decision-making tools considers not only the cost-benefit ratio but also takes spatiality and uncertainty explicitly into account. Until recently, research has mainly dealt with costs, but benefits should also be taken into account. Spatiality is important, e.g. one area may be better suited than others, and there may be interdependency between areas. And little has so far been done on including uncertainty in decision making, even though conservation measures are inherently uncertain as now highlighted by climate change.

Governance in forest and natural resources utilisation
In both developed and developing countries, there is a tendency towards decentralisation of the management of forest and natural resources. This raises the need for research on good governance: how to undertake the decentralisation in order to actually obtain the intended benefits to local people and to the country? Present research topics at FLD are: (i) participatory forestry (in developing countries), (ii) contract theory (payment for environmental services), (iii) conflict resolution. The research in this interdisciplinary field (here political science and economics) has revealed an overwhelming picture of failure in practice: e.g., over-exploitation, benefits not accruing to the local people aimed at, biodiversity not maintained, contracts on management being inefficient / too expensive to the Treasury, conflicts amongst stakeholders.

Forests and trees in combating of poverty
Products and services from forests and trees, inclusive of trees outside forests such as in agroforestry systems, play an important role in combating poverty in developing countries. A role that is influenced by factors like deforestation and climate change. Present research at FLD on sustainable management of forest and tree resources in developing countries aims at contributing to peoples livelihoods. Focus is on: (i) systematic comparative studies on forest dependency, (ii) integration of socioeconomic and biophysical studies at household and singe forest levels, (iii) agroforestry and food security, and (iv) substantiation and development of locally relevant forest and tree management systems. The research will provide the foundation for developing techniques for aid and governance to support sustainable management.

Relevant staffing:
(i) Forest and nature economics and policy: Three full professors, 11 associate professors/senior researchers, two assistant professors/post docs, 25 doctoral candidates.

(ii) Forest and nature ecology and silviculture: Four full professors, 16 associate professors/senior researchers, one assistant professor, four doctoral candidates.