Forest ecosystem management under global change

Forchange is concerned with the sustainable management, production and governance of forest landscapes, resources and services in the Southern European Atlantic and Mediterranean regions, encompassing a variety of ecosystems ranging from intensive forest plantations to mixed forests and agroforestry systems. The research group seeks to increase scientific knowledge for the management of these multifunctional ecosystems, to be used in the development of models implemented in forest simulators and a diversity of decision support systems, driven by soil, climate, social and policy drivers, applicable along a range of spatial scales from the individual tree to landscapes.  

The main research themes are  

1. Inventory and monitoring of forest ecosystems  

2. Silviculture in forest ecosystems   

3. Forest ecosystem models and simulators 

4. Criteria decision making methods to design green and resilient landscapes 

5. Forest governance and policy processes 

ForChange has strong collaboration with similar research groups in other parts of the world as highlighted by its participation and coordination in several EU projects and COST Actions, including projects with non-European partners. Group members are also strongly involved with international research networks such as: International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), European Agroforestry Federation (EURAF) and European Forest Institute (EFI). Research is undertaken in close cooperation with Portuguese stakeholders (e.g. Forest Service, landowner associations, SMEs and industry). 

Specific objectives for the 2025-2029 aim at:

i)  increasing research of LIDAR and unmanned aerial vehicles as monitoring technologies and/or data sources for forest simulators, silviculture, forest management and decision making;

ii) research on the long-term effect of silviculture operations with a focus on wood, non-wood forest products and mixed forests;

iii) improvement of climate and soil sensitive management oriented forest ecosystem models and simulators covering new species and more complex stands (composition and structure);

iv) development and improvement of modules for the simulation of disturbance impacts on the potential supply of wood and non-wood products and  ecosystem services;

v) improvement of user-friendly software’s and FCTools website;

vi) development of model building and model solving intelligent approaches to address emerging forest ecosystem management planning problems faced by stakeholders in Portugal and world-wide (e.g., adaptive territorial management to address extreme wildfire events);

vii) enhancement of the integration of spatial optimization with multiple-criteria (e.g., Pareto frontier) approaches to facilitate participatory planning in landscapes fragmented into several ownerships.

Group Coordinator

Joana Amaral Paulo