Versatile forests wanted
Study with Göttingen participation provides opportunities for forestry to take action
Most European forests are primarily used for timber production. However, woodlands also provide recreational space and store carbon dioxide. A new study involving the University of Göttingen shows what can be done to improve forestry so that forest areas fulfil as many functions as possible at the same time. The scientists from 21 research institutions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland investigated various characteristics of Central European forests with regard to 14 ecosystem services. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.
So far, it has been known that there are forests that provide several ecosystem services simultaneously. However, it was unclear what made these forest areas special. The researchers therefore investigated various characteristics such as the number of tree and shrub species, the variability of the forest structure or the age of the trees. They identified which of these attributes promote certain services. "For example, we were able to show that forests with old trees, many different shrub species and a heterogeneous structure with gaps are best suited to provide many different – but not all possible – services," explains the lead author of the study, Dr María Felipe-Lucia from the University of Bern.
The study provides opportunities for action in forestry practice and supports the latest steps towards the promotion of multifunctional forests. "Our results show that certain characteristics of forests are beneficial for many ecosystem services," adds Professor Christian Ammer from the University of Göttingen, one of the co-authors of the study. "However, the perfect forest that delivers everything we want does not exist. Therefore, there is a lot to be said for mixed management, with which we create diverse forest landscapes and which results in a mixture of units with different forest resources and characteristics."
Original publication: Felipe-Lucia et al. Multiple forest attributes underpin the supply of multiple ecosystem services. Nature communications, 2018 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07082-4.
Professor Christian Ammer
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology
Büsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Phone +49 551 39-33671