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LaForeT · R² | Land use types and forest management

Tropical forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services and thereby benefits to local populations, especially in tropical countries with high dependencies on the natural resources, forests often support local livelihoods. For example, they stabilize the climate through the storage of greenhouse gases and are an essential source of biomass and energy, food and employment. Additionally, they serve as natural habitat to large proportion flora and fauna.

Timber logging and the expansion of the agricultural frontier, which strongly relate to local income and development, also lead to forest degradation and deforestation, which reduces for regulating services, supporting and cultural services and the conservation of biodiversity.Forests in tropical landscapes are crucial for the conservation of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and delivery of ecosystem services for local livelihoods. However, the ability of forests to fulfil these functions is severely threatened by ongoing deforestation and forest degradation.

There are various forest types in tropical landscapes (e.g., old-growth forests, regenerating secondary forests or plantations with native or exotic species), which can be managed for different objectives (e.g., production of timber, fuelwood or NWFPs and/or carbon sequestration) or be under protection. These different silvicultural options have the potential to improve functions that forests provide and reduce risks they face. However, not all options contribute equally to all functions; instead, there are synergies and trade-offs between different objectives.

Our research aims to identify how provision of ecosystem services and by extensions the benefits to humans changes when forest undergo a transition from old-growth forest to different types of restoration or regeneration. This will be conducted in three steps:

  • In a first step we will address whether or not forests in landscape with high and intact forest cover provide different ecosystem services. Also we investigate how environmental factors, stand composition and landscape structure affect the supply of ecosystem services using inventory data from two different countries.
  • The collection of forest inventory data in the field on growing stock or stored carbon is labour intensive but, but still only gives an uncompleted pictures. We learn about the forest ecosystem services at one particular point in a landscape, but little about the whole picture. Remote sensing technologies and satellite photos can help to upscale this plot based information and reveal information on a landscape level. This will help us to identify whether regulating ecosystem services are higher in protected areas or zone of anthropogenic influence.
  • Ecosystem services are defined by their benefit for humans, but do they occur where local populations need them? We aim to answer this question by comparing socio-economic information from communities in all three countries with the earlier produced ecosystem service maps.

Further objectives of our research are to

  • identify promising silvicultural options for different forest types,
  • define scenarios that describe how the different options may be applied in tropical forest landscapes, and
  • compare the impact on potential forest use, selected ecosystem services and biodiversity between these silvicultural scenarios.

This will be achieved using a model-based methodological approach that is parametrized using data from literature as well as project data from 36 LaForeT-R² landscapes along the forest transition curve in Ecuador, Zambia and the Philippines.

We aim to improve our understanding how the benefits to humans from forests change through deforestation, degradation and recovery. For this, our research is expected to provide robust quantitative information on the impact of different silvicultural options on the delivery of ecosystem services and conservation of biodiversity.

Based on these results, we plan to derive proposals for policy-relevant guidelines on how to balance multiple management objectives on the landscape level. This can contribute to an improvement of sustainable forest management and forest restoration practices in tropical landscapes.

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