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“Changing our way of forest management is the key to making forests more resilient”

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. Finally, we are interviewing Laura Nikinmaa, PhD student and research fellow at European Forest Institute (EFI).

What is EFI contributing to I-Maestro?
EFI has several tasks in I-Maestro out of which updating the European forest disturbance database up to 2020 is of major importance. Many of the forest disturbance models predicting the future require adequate knowledge of the previous disturbances so the database can substantially contribute also to our understanding of the future forest disturbances. Another task of EFI is to review the literature on how forest management can affect the disturbance impact. In that task, the aim is to understand what type of forest management does have a mitigating effect on forest disturbances, incorporate this understanding into the forest management simulation models, and to analyse how do the recommended forest management practices reflect the available science.

Laura Nikinmaa (photo: private)

Where does your specific expertise/background come in?
My background is in forest ecophysiology and I’m currently conducting my PhD on forest resilience. Understanding the disturbance dynamics and the underlying reasons behind forest vulnerability is an important factor in determining forest resilience. Therefore, I’m very interested in forest disturbances and how they affect different types of forests. In I-Maestro, my main task is to conduct the literature review on how forest management affects disturbance impacts. As the review results will also be incorporated into the modeling work done at I-Maestro, I’m excited to see the final results!

What excites you about the project?
For me, the most exciting is how the different elements from fieldwork, remote sensing analysis, modeling, and literature review come together. It’s great to be able to learn about the different methods as that gives me a much better idea, what is possible to do and study in forest sciences. It’s also fun to get to know new colleagues from other countries and institutes!

What do you expect as major achievement of your group/ the whole project?
I think for EFI, the major achievement will be updating the forest disturbance database and making it user-friendly so that people can keep uploading disturbance data there even after the end of I-Maestro. As for the whole project, I’m looking forward to seeing the forest management models and how they can contribute to more adaptive management. Changing our way of forest management is the key to making forests more resilient after all.

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