Summary of research
Genetic resources, species and habitats are key components of biodiversity. They supply stakeholders with a range of utilities which include forest products as well as fulfilment of cultural and spiritual needs by maintaining the delicate balance of nature. There is therefore clear economic merit in investing in the upkeep of these resources which make direct and indirect contributions to human wellbeing. Silvicultural or habitat management systems manipulate ecological processes to achieve a range of different objectives which influence the above components of biodiversity. The programme aims to provide solid data which will is urgently required in the Land Use and Ecosystem Services programme.
This is a new programme and the first work area aims to develop within the participants an understanding of how the four components contribute to ecosystem services and biodiversity in its broadest sense.
The second, third and fourth work areas explore (i) the efficacy of silvicultural approaches, (ii) how they influence biodiversity and (iii) how they can be applied to benefit protected species.
The fifth work area deals with genetic resources. Once established, genetic resources continually evolve in response to the stresses they experience in different ecosystems. The genetic resources in a given ecosystem are a product of this evolution combined with the process of geneflow from other, connected ecosystems. As such, genetic resources are unique to different ecosystems and are a source of value to future generations. This work area aims to improve our understanding of the genetic resources present in our woodlands by investigating the distribution of adaptive and neutral genetic diversity and geneflow. As genetic resources do not respect national boundaries, the work area will also contribute to the EUFORGEN network which deals with similar issues on a European scale. It also includes providing scientific support to Forest Reproductive Material Regulations (FRM).
The results of the programme will generate key data to underpin land use and ecosystem planning decisions They will allow informed policy to be developed on how to conserve these valuable components of the ecosystem.