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“We develop long-term management strategies to maximise ecosystem services against forest disturbances”

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. Our third interviewee is Raphaël Aussenac, Postdoc researcher at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE).

What is INRAE contributing to I-Maestro?

First of all, INRAE coordinates the project. As part of this responsibility, INRAE ensures that teams working on practical and empirical aspects and those modelling forest dynamics work tuned. We seek to better understand the relationship between the complexity of stand structure and the provision of ecosystem services while integrating the effects of natural disturbances and climate change. In particular, we participate in the modelling of forest dynamics and in the analysis of the simulations. By addressing our research question with several European partners with different approaches we hope to offer more comprehensive answers.

Where does your specific expertise/background come in?

Raphaël Aussenac
Raphaël Aussenac

My background straddles forest management and modelling. This enables me to directly participate to the modelling process but also to the refinement of our scientific questions while ensuring that our work has practical outcomes that could be of interest to forest managers.

What excites you about the project?

I really like the multi-model approach we have developed. Our conclusions will be more robust if the very different models we use tend towards similar results. Forest modelling in general involves many different concepts and methods. Overall, the aim is to simulate processes observed in forest ecosystems, such as tree growth, tree mortality, or tree interactions. Forest modelling makes it possible to conduct virtual experiments that enrich our understanding of the functioning of forests. It also makes it possible to predict the evolution of these ecosystems under different environmental conditions, such as those expected in the future. Hence, I-Maestro is also a good opportunity to learn more about other modelling approaches developed by other teams.

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

With regard to our modellers group, we hope to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our models and thus identify potential axes to improve their performances. As for the project major achievements, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of the link between the complexity of forest stands and their resilience to disturbance. This better understanding has practical implications: it could help to develop long-term management strategies aiming to maximise ecosystem services against disturbances and climate change. Finally, a non-negligible outcome of this project is the strengthening of European partnerships which allows teams working on the same topics to exchange and learn from each other.


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