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Resilience: what tree rings can say

A single definition of forest resilience is yet to be found, so we decided to establish a series of interviews introducing scientists who deal with this term every day. Meet Ute Sass-Klaassen from Wageningen University. Her research focuses on tree growth in relation to environmental factors. Droughts, flooding, heat waves, fires, and frost events play an important role for productivity and survival of trees and may cause severe disturbances in forest ecosystem services. Knowledge about forest growth and mortality provides valuable information for understanding how surviving trees have reacted to these disturbances and determining basic parameters of a functioning forest ecosystem.

Her study shows that beech trees in the Netherlands were able to withstand droughts. Ute uses extreme long-time series of tree ring (dendrochronology) as did David W. Stahle, who found that trees are long-living organisms with a life-span of between several hundred to thousands of years, with the oldest living trees on earth having reached ages of up to 5,000 years.

The Voices of Resilience series talks to different scientists, some of who participated in a scientific workshop in September 2018 in Bonn. “Operationalizing Forest Resilience” brought scientists from Europe and the USA to discuss how they can help forest managers to implement resilience in practice. Previous Voices of Resilience features showed the work of Kathy SteppeRupert SeidlClaudia Bieling and Elena Cantarello. Be on the lookout for new videos!


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