8.01.00 - Forest ecosystem functions
Forest ecosystems cover a wide variety of regulation, habitat, production, and information functions which generate an even larger set of ecosystem services and goods, beneficiary to the human population. The Unit serves as integrative platform for ecosystem function orientated research in various forest ecosystems ranging from costal to alpine environments. Ecosystem functions specifically addressed include climate and GHG regulation, raw material provision, nutrient regulation and soil retention, water regulation and supply, disturbance prevention, as well as refugium and nursery functions. The broad positioning connects the Unit with other Divisions/Units and Task Forces dealing with complementary topics and allows for cross disciplinary networking.
Forest ecosystem functions will become core elements in mitigating and alleviating future global climate change. While reforestation and improvement of degraded forest are common sense, there is vivid debate how managed forests can be utilized to achieve optimal mitigation potential. Strategies towards maximizing forest carbon stocks (old growth forest) conflict with increased provision of raw materials for bio-energy production and a fast developing bioeconomy. Within this highly dynamic decision process, there is ample need for further research, networking, and connection to stakeholders, NGOs and authorities. Other ecosystem functions/services such as drinking water supply, recreational use, biodiversity conversation, etc. are receiving increasing public attention. If these ecosystem functions are going to have priority in future forests, it is up to research to define common ways for valuing non-production oriented ecosystem functions in order to support forest stake holders.