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“Our results contribute to a better understanding of many forest disturbance processes”

How can we increase the resilience of our forest to be better prepared for future natural disturbances and climate change, while maintaining a high level of wood production, carbon storage, and habitat quality for biodiversity? The project Innovative forest management strategies for a resilient bioeconomy under climate change and disturbances (I-MAESTRO) aims at improving the scientific basis for developing adequate forest management strategies. In an interview series, we are introducing the different I-MAESTRO partners and their roles in the project – and we are sharing very personal perspectives from different researchers involved. The series continues with Luiza Tymińska-Czabańska and Ewa Grabska from University of Krakow.

What is University of Krakow (UAK) contributing to I-Maestro?

Luiza&Ewa: Our team at UAK includes researchers with various expertise and skills such as forestry, remote sensing, data science, statistics, and geography. With scientists covering such a complex background, we are able to develop approaches to analyze issues such as modeling of different forest properties, monitoring of disturbances, classification of tree species and their age, site index prediction, or biomass estimation and its changes over time. Furthermore, we collected a comprehensive database on forest characteristics and data about forest disturbances for the whole area of Poland, and additionally, environmental variables – climatic, topographic, geological, and soils. Access to such an exhaustive database enables modeling the impact of various factors on forest processes in temperate zones.

Where does your specific expertise/background come in?

Luiza Tymińska-Czabańska at conference in Chile

Ewa: I am a geographer specialized in GIS and remote sensing. In my PhD, I focus on the use of remote sensing data from Sentinel-2 mission in determining forest characteristics, such as species composition and stand age with the use of machine learning. I also work with dense time series of imagery in monitoring forest changes and disturbances, which have particularly intensified in the past years. I am also a big enthusiast of R language in data analysis.

Luiza: I graduated from the forestry department at the UAK, hence the subject of the project is for me well known. In my PhD, I focus on changes in the productivity of forest sites, which are closely related to climate and environmental changes observed around the world. Thus, I investigate the productivity of forest sites for the main tree species and its variability. I also work on site productivity modeling, and the effects of these analysis can be found in recently published articles. Our team is the main source of knowledge and the greatest resource I can take from. It is a great pleasure to work with such a professional and experienced team. Everyone is very open and willing to share knowledge and experience, we meet often and discuss the issues we are currently working on. This creates very good conditions and atmosphere at work and encourages us to learn more. The knowledge I am expanding during my PhD studies may be very useful in the project because forest disturbances seem to be closely related to changes in the productivity of forest sites.

What excites you about the project?

Ewa Grabska presenting her work

Ewa: I like the idea of cooperation with great scientists in an international team. Also, working with large and complex databases, and the need to create new approaches to efficiently analyze these data is exciting. The topic of the project is closely related to the topic of my research, and methods for automatic and efficient detecting and monitoring of forest disturbances are very needed. I am happy to share my knowledge and experience in (not only) remote sensing data analysis, and thus contribute to the I-Maestro project!

Luiza: I am enjoying the possibility of studying the issue of such a huge importance on both a regional and global scale. Changes in the dynamics of forest ecosystems appear to be inevitable. Our results could contribute to a better understanding of many disturbance processes. Particularly studies on the causes of forest disturbances are extremely important for forest management in individual countries. With our research, we aim at supporting forest managers to apply appropriate adaptation approaches. Which in turn is essential on a global scale to maintaining forest ecosystems. It is also great that we can cooperate with all scientists from the project, participate in interesting meetings and science conferences. The possibility to meet, present, and exchange results of our research it is one of the most important experiences to me. Therefore, I try to use this opportunity as much as possible. 2020 it is unfortunately hampered by the coronavirus, although at the beginning of the year I managed to participate in a conference organized by The Resource Modeling Association in Chile and received the prize for the best PhD student presentation. These types of events provide unique opportunities to establish interesting cooperation and my expand knowledge.

What do you expect as major achievement of your group/ the whole project?

Luiza&Ewa: The disturbance database developed in this project will be an important output for further analysis in broader spatial and temporal scales. The results will indicate which factors are the main drivers of forest disturbances. This is extremely important, especially when considering recent climate changes. We hope that the knowledge we provide can contribute to the development of forest management strategies that will help to mitigate the impact of climate change on forests in the future.

Featured image @pixabay

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