1.01.06 - Ecology and silviculture of oak
The working goal of this unit is to link the scientific knowledge in ecology and silviculture of oak species and forests around the world to management and conservation practices in the field. We promote international cooperation between research groups, forest services, non-government organizations and private forest owners working with oaks.
There are nearly 600 species in the oak genus. These come from temperate regions of the Americas to Eurasia, as well as in hilly terrain of subtropical and tropical areas of Central America to Asia. Oaks can be found from the arid regions of the Nevada, USA and Iran to the cold humid tropics in Vietnam. This wide geographic distribution in oaks is attributed to a high diversity in life form ranging from shrubs to giant trees. Oaks are natural components of many temperate broadleaved forests and play an important role in the maintenance of biodiversity. For example, an old English oak (Quercus robur L.) can harbour nearly 500 species of flora and fauna. Oaks also have high economic- and cultural value. For example, in many countries oaks are managed for high quality timber, firewood, wine barrels, truffles, building materials, mushrooms, cork, fodder production etc. The high cultural value of oaks has led 16 nations to select them as their national tree. Major global challenges in the conservation and management of oak forests include fostering natural regeneration of oaks and tackling their decline due to increasing pathogen outbreaks, drought and uncontrolled exploitation of native oak woods. Due to the high cultural and economic interest in oaks in Europe and North America, a relatively large body of research had been conducted on the major oak species in these two continents. However, significant knowledge gaps still persist on successful regeneration, tree pathology and management of oaks in temperate regions. This will become even more challenging under a warmer climate. In contrast to temperate regions, oaks in the tropics and subtropics are not well studied. In Asia and Central America, natural habitats of oaks are rapidly dwindling, which warrants urgent research on the ecology, silviculture, management and conservation of subtropical and tropical oaks. This unit aims to build up a research network to promote oak research and extension activities in temperate, subtropical and tropical regions by organizing regular workshops throughout the world.