About this Research Topic
Ongoing intensive forestry practices have significantly altered forest ecosystems and continue to do so, which is illustrated, amongst other things, by increasing landscape fragmentation and homogenization of forest stands and reduced species diversity. In addition to intensive forestry, climate change can alter forest dynamics and affect forest biodiversity, as well as impact growth yield and disturbance cycles in forest ecosystems. Different climatic conditions will not only affect the distribution of tree species, it will likely also have an impact on disturbances such as the frequency and severity of forest fires, windthrow and pest infestations, which will have strong economic and ecological implications. Consequently, there is a concerted effort to adapt forest management practices to mitigate negative effects of climate change, for instance through increasing the uptake of carbon by vegetation and attempts to minimize tree damages and losses by natural disturbances, such as windthrow and pest outbreaks. However, such adaptations may have uncertain effects on other ecosystem services provided by forest ecosystems, such as timber production, carbon sequestration, and wildlife conservation. Thus, a good understanding of how forestry practices and climate change may affect forest dynamics is required if we want to safeguard the ecosystem services forests provide and the biodiversity they host.
It is therefore essential to develop new decision support tools that are able to predict future scenarios in forest ecosystems. Landscape simulation models, among others, can be used to assess the effects of future climate change, alterations in disturbances and management practices, and establishment of new species of flora and fauna on forest ecosystems. They can provide valuable information on e.g. possibilities for increased carbon sequestration and which restoration practices need to be used after forests have sustained damage. There is a multitude of such models and although they are primarily used in forestry management, they may be highly valuable for other purposes as well, for example, to increase the resilience of forest ecosystems and to aid in biodiversity conservation planning.
In this Research Topic, we aim to outline the current work on using landscape simulation models to assess the effects of forestry practices and natural disturbances on ecosystem services provided by temperate and boreal forest ecosystems. The goal is to establish a platform for further advancement of how to balance the conflicting goals in forest landscapes that are facing climate change. We aim to publish a series of articles that cover various topics, targeting a multitude of ecosystem services, silvicultural practices, and forest ecosystems, and discuss the challenges and benefits of current methodological approaches, research directions, practical sector implementation, and needs for future research. In particular, we welcome submissions on the following topics:
1. Impacts of climate change on temperate and boreal forests, with emphasis on:
- natural disturbances such as windthrow, pests, browsing, and fire
- ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, timber production, and water regulation
- biodiversity conservation
- forest dynamics and structure
2. Natural and Anthropogenic disturbance simulation in forests
3. Development of new forest landscape model approaches
4. Forest management strategies to adapt to or mitigate climate change
We welcome empirical studies, original research, meta-analyses, and novel methodologies as well as reviews, perspectives, and opinions.
Keywords: Climate change, Ecosystem services, Forests, Modeling, Resilience
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