8.02.01 - Key factors and ecological functions for forest biodiversity
The Working Party research activities focus on 3 main thematic areas:
- key ecological factors of forest biodiversity; this topic includes ecological studies of forest biodiversity targeting the description and monitoring of forest biodiversity, the identification of the key factors that shape forest biodiversity. Two priorities are to complement multi-factor analyses by focusing on both the spatial patterns and by assessing dynamic forest ecosystem processes through diachronic methods or through space-for-time approaches. Key factors may include:
- topographic, soil, climatic and other bio-physical gradients;
- forest stand attributes (i.e. abundance, structure and composition);
- temporal dynamics attributes (stand or landscape history and disturbance);
- landscape level factors (e.g. habitat quantity, fragmentation, patch core area, etc).
In particular, the study of these key factors will be related to forest management/policies.
- forest biodiversity indicators; they are qualitative and quantitative informations used to monitor and assess the sustainability of forest management relative to biodiversity. One of the aims is to promote the development and testing of consolidated and innovative indicators that would allow a better awareness of their properties:
- the component of biodiversity they indicate;
- the magnitude and form of the relationship between the indicator and biodiversity;
- the ecological conditions for which the relationship between the indicators and biodiversity holds, especially related to forest type.
- forest biodiversity monitoring; priorities are testing of operational and statistically robust methodologies to collect data; crucial for progress in this area is to promote understanding of the growing opportunities offered by recently developed remote sensing technology (aerial and satellite laser scanning, unmanned aerial systems, hyperspectral technologies, synthetic aperture radar), coupled with the increasing extent of sharing of in-situ (ground) data (ground forest and biodiversity inventories, terrestrial laser scanning, DNA barcoding). Another hot topic will be how to integrate citizen science in forest biodiversity monitoring.
Likewise, we intend to encourage international research on forest biodiversity monitoring, in both European and global regions, in order to identify major trends in forest biodiversity indicators, according to ecologically-sound forest type classifications.
We also intend to integrate social science in the Unit to analyse the conditions that lead to increasing awareness on the usefulness of biodiversity indicators and monitoring among stakeholders, and also examine perceptions and barriers to knowledge transfer and co-production.
Forest biological diversity results from ecological processes mediated by both abiotic and biotic factors such as climate, competition, fire and other disturbances. Forest biodiversity has also been shaped by forest management and human exploitation for centuries.
Within specific forest ecosystems, the maintenance of ecological processes and associated ecosystem services (e.g. timber and non-woody resources, soil and water protection, climate regulation, amenities) is dependent upon the maintenance of their biological diversity and vice versa. Maintenance of disturbances, i.e. natural or similar processes created by e.g. silvicultural measures, and their regimes is a prerequisite to maintain the biological diversity within forests. A key issue is to find design principles for a forest biodiversity strategy based upon a mixture of protected areas and production forests managed with considerations to biodiversity.
In terms of biodiversity indicators and monitoring, the ecological perspective needs to be complemented by the social perspective, because stakeholders have different prioritization schemes and objectives for these tools. Social analyses should help understand and enable for these differences as well as identify the shared visions by the stakeholders that will constitute the basis to build a shared monitoring system.