Core research areas and staffing – Københavns Universitet

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Core research areas and staffing

Göttingen (Institute of International Forestry and Forest Products)

Forest management and utilisation
A basic goal of production forestry is to produce valuable wood from different tree species in stable systems resis-tant to perturbations. In Germany, 38 million cubic meters of wood are harvested each year. This illustrates the importance of forests for the sustainable and environmentally friendly supply of a renewable resource. However, in a highly populated and industrialised country like Germany, forests are more than just a supply of raw materials. The utilisation of the raw material wood is closely tied to protection and use of other natural resources provided by forest ecosystems. Future development is dependent upon finding new economic strategies under changing environmental conditions, in order to maintain stable and productive forest ecosystems and develop new uses for wood and wood products. Present research capacity at the Faculty of Forestry are (i) the development of models of forest growth as a tool for planning and monitoring, (ii) large area inventory of the forest and tree resource to provide the basis for informed decision making in forest management and forest policy, (iii) forest tending, harvesting, and access, (iv) operational forest planning and management, and (v) wood utilisation and modification. The research interlinks forests and its products wood to society thus emphasise recording of economic consequences of forestry and harvesting ensuring sustainable forest management.

Conservation and forest ecology
Systematic and intelligent forestry balances the resource view onto forest as a production system and the eco-system view onto forest as the house of largest terrestrial biodiversity. Until the mid sixties of the last century, environmental aspects were of lesser importance and considered to be automatically fulfilled in the wake of utilisation, or were only of local importance. Since that time, ecosystem research has gained a foothold in forest sciences within the framework of the international biological programme. The field of nature conservation focuses on development and optimisation of practice-oriented evaluation, planning, and monitoring methods for the protection and the ecologically compatible, sustainable use of forested areas. Thus the inclusion of scientific insights of the different conservation relevant basic disciplines is treated as equally important as the assurance of an adequate practical relevance. Emphasis is placed on the areas of forest conservation and recreation, respectively eco-tourism, both in central European and tropical investigation areas. Specific fields of research include (i) evaluation approaches from a nature conservation perspective, (ii) forest and landscape analysis for biodiversity, including habitat suitability analysis, (iii) recreational provision and sustainable tourism development, and (iv) planning approaches for landscaping and management. Subjects of the analysis are public and private stakeholders, policy instruments and the processes of policy formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Forest ecosystem analysis and information processing
The ecosystem approach requires not only a greater input from other subjects, such as vegetation sciences, zool-ogy, forest genetics and microbiology, but also, as never before, inputs from applied mathematics and applied informatics as integrative methods of analysis and representation of a multitude of processes and interactions. The key activities are in the fields of spatial information systems, remote sensing techniques and remote sensing image interpretation, (geo-) statistics, inventory and sample methods, as well as modelling approaches to plant growth and ecosystem development. Research focuses inter alia on (i) development of computing methods and concepts, techniques for analysing, representing, simulating and visualising individuals, populations ecosystems and landscape scenarios, (ii) generation of virtual realities (forest landscapes), (iii) statistical and deterministic mathematical modelling of processes in forest eco-systems and forestry, (iv) further development and evaluation of sampling designs and plot designs, (iv) inventory and assessment of NWFPs (Non-Wood Forest Products) and trees outside forests (TOF), and (v) financial management of forest enterprises and controlling. There are changing needs in the traditional forestry sector. Both state and private administrations have become service industries with high technological requirements, and are out-sourcing to newly developing private service companies. Thus, the qualifications both in knowledge of ecosystems and applied information technology is essential these days.

Tropical and international forestry
Worldwide, the largest forest areas are located outside of Western Europe. In recent decades these forests have been increasingly affected by specific problems (e.g. deforestation in tropical countries), which cannot be compared to the problems that have affected forests in Western Europe. This has to do with a variety of societal factors that do vary from region to region, including the forest being used for shifting cultivation from a rapidly increasing number of people, the forest resource being exploited by national and transnational companies and the forest conversion into intensively managed perennial agricultural crops like oil palms: Non-sustainable use of tropical forests and forest conversion severely endangers the development of tropical countries and considerably contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the main objective of the field of tropical and international forestry is to study and develop sustainable management systems for different forest and tree based land-use systems. The present research capacities at the faculty include (i) sustainable and close-to-nature management of old-growth forests, (ii) ecological and economic potential of secondary forests, (iii) biological interaction in agroforestry systems, (iv) large area monitoring and assessment techniques to support related policy processes and (v) sustainability of plantation forestry and tree ecology. Based on modern concepts of tree and forest ecology, management of land-use systems has to be in accordance with the variety of economic and other goals.

Relevant staffing:
(i) Forest and nature economics and policy: Three full professors, five assistant professors/post docs, 17 doctoral candidates.
(ii) Forest and nature ecology and silviculture: Eight full professors, 12 associate professors/senior re-searchers, 29 assistant professor/post docs, 82 doctoral candidates.