Short Scientific Visits 2017-2018

In 2017 EFI issued 10 grants for Short Scientific Visits (SSV) for Early Stage Researchers from EFI Associate Member organisations. The SSVs will take place between June 2017 and May 2018.

Giuseppe Cardellini (KU Leuven)

The climate impact of forest management scenarios in Europe: inclusion of radiative forcing and global warming potential into EFISCEN and EFI-GTM models

Giuseppe will be hosted by Hans Verkerk (European Forest Institute).

The objective of the study is to assess the climate impact of different forest management options (no management, bioenergy and wood material production) in Europe, considering the impact of forest biogenic carbon dynamics on climate. Due to the so-called carbon-neutrality issue, together with the alleged carbon debt due to forest regrowth after wood harvesting, the use of forests as an instrument to mitigate climate change has been strongly criticized recently. However, the actual climate impact of forest policies does not depend only on the forest carbon fluxes, but on the actual impact they exert on climate. The positive effect of [use of] forest biogenic carbon compared to [use of] anthropogenic carbon, has already been shown in various published studies, but only at a small scale. The goal of the project will be to integrate this information into existing scenarios of European forest management strategies developed within EFI with the EFISCEN model. This will allow a more complete picture of the real climate benefit and potential of forest management scenarios in Europe to be obtained. The climate effect of forest biogenic carbon dynamics on climate will be assessed integrating EFISCEN with the TiSpa model developed within the EU FP7 project FORMIT, which allows for this type of climate analysis. Existing EFISCEN model simulations will be used (EFSOS-II, Seidl et al. 2014, Verkerk et al. 2016) and the results will be integrated calculating also their radiative forcing and global warming impact. In the two weeks of the visit all the necessary data for the analysis will be collected and the integration of the two models will be started. The integration and analysis of the results, together with the writing of a manuscript to be submitted to a scientific journal, will be continued after the visit at the home institution.



Seidl, R., Schelhaas, M.-J., Rammer, W., Verkerk, P.J., 2014. Increasing forest disturbances in Europe and their impact on carbon storage. Nat. Clim. Change 4, 806–810.

Verkerk, P.J., Lindner, M., Pérez-Soba, M., Paterson, J.S., Helming, J., Verburg, P.H., Kuemmerle, T., Lotze-Campen, H., Moiseyev, A., Müller, D., Popp, A., Schulp, C.J.E., Stürck, J., Tabeau, A., Wolfslehner, B., Zanden, E.H. van der, 2016. Identifying pathways to visions of future land use in Europe. Reg. Environ. Change 1–14.

Olalla Díaz-Yáñez (University of Eastern Finland)

Wind and snow disturbances and their impact on forest carbon storage

Olalla will be hosted by Prof. Rupert Seidl (BOKU).

Natural disturbances modify the forest structure, composition and succession having an impact on the expected services and functions. Forest carbon storage is an important forest service that can be weakened by disturbances. The objective of the study will be to analyze how snow and wind disturbances can affect the forest carbon storage under different forest management conditions. The methods used will be based on forest development simulations including the risk of disturbances under different management. The damage predictive models have been developed for Norwegian forests using a 20-year dataset from the national forest inventory. I expect to obtain results indicating which management strategies can increase the forest C sink and discuss what benefits or losses are expected from those alternatives. The 10 working days of the short scientific visit will be used to discuss the best analysis strategies, set the study framework, prepare the publication structure and develop the first results.

Jan Kaspar (Czech University of Life Sciences Prague)

Including bio-economy aspects into the forest planning process in the countries of the Central Europe

Jan will be hosted by Dr Jyrki Kangas (School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland).

The forests play a central role in the bioeconomy: providing material, bioenergy, wealth and regulating and cultural ecosystem services. The bioeconomy of forests links the whole value chain from the management to use of forests. According to the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, the bioeconomy is "... the sustainable use of renewable biological resources for industrial purposes, while ensuring biodiversity and environmental protection." State authorities and forest owners in the Czech Republic and other central European countries still fail to react to these global trends in forest management. Current planning processes are still based on the preference of the forest production function and a particular focus on pulp and paper products and wood products. The inclusion of other ecosystem services is unfortunately not guaranteed. Furthermore, planning includes only one part of the whole forest-based sector value chain regardless of sustainability issues and long-term effects on the bioeconomy. The objective of this short scientific visit is mainly to get information from leading experts in the field of bioeconomy and build a new schematic model for forest management planning in the Czech Republic under their supervision. Two first phases of modelling approach, defining the problem and creating the economic model, are the main objectives of project. The definition of the needed input and output information of the new planning approach will also be outputs. The model schema of the management will include all ecosystem services that could be provided by the forests, taking into account the long-term sustainability.

Tommaso Locatelli (Northern Research Station, Forest Research)

Integrating a new version of the wind risk model ForestGALES with GIS to facilitate scientific collaboration and improving multi-purpose forest management

Tommaso will be hosted by Prof. Barry Gardiner (EFIATLANTIC).

The overall objective of the project is to improve the accuracy, applicability, flexibility and reliability of wind risk evaluation in forests as part of multi-risk analysis. This will be done by combining the latest, most dynamic version of the ForestGALES wind-risk model written in R, with the open-source GIS software Quantum GIS (QGIS). Pontenx forest in the south-west area of Aquitaine in France will be used as a test case because it is already well mapped and described as part of the INTEGRAL project. The overarching objective can be broken down into smaller aims: (a) Translating the ‘Turning Moment Coefficient’ (TMC) version of the wind risk model ForestGALES in the free and open source R language; (b) Coupling the R version of ForestGALES TMC (FG_R) with QGIS, a free and open source GIS software; (c) Using silvicultural, environmental, weather and topographical data from the Pontenx forest to test the functionality of FG_R and its coupling with QGIS; and (d) Producing interactive, dynamic maps of wind risk in the forest under different silvicultural treatments.

Following previous work of translating the traditional wind risk calculation method of ForestGALES from versions written in Delphi and Java into R, ForestGALES TMC will be similarly translated into R. Digital Elevation Models (freely available from USGS, and already obtained for the area) and forest and soil inventory data (already obtained by Prof. Gardiner) will be used to produce elevation and roughness maps of the area. These maps will be combined with weather data for the forest (from the Infoclimat network and Meteo France) in the WAsP (Wind Atlas Analysis and Application Program) software to generate maps of the two parameters of the distributions of wind speed and direction (Weibull-A and k) required by FG_R to model the wind climate of the area. Some growth models for the most commonly planted species in the area – maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and oak (Quercus spp.) and of trial species of potential commercial importance (Eucalyptus spp.) are already available. Others will be obtained from contacts at INRA and from the literature. These will be used to simulate tree growth for use with FG_R, and will be combined with the spatial information on the geographical distributions of species and management practices in the project area to create spatial wind damage risk assessments with the FG_R–QGIS coupling. The resulting dynamic and interactive wind risk maps for present conditions and possible future alternatives will be used as the basis for writing a wind risk assessment report for Pontenx forest. The report will also illustrate the lessons learned from the coupling exercise, and the potential for application at larger scales and in different environments.

Aynur Mammadova (University of Padova)

From political discourse to governance capacity: zero deforestation commitments and their uptake by the leather sector

Aynur visited Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR) in the Netherlands during the period of 05 September– 13 October 2017. She was hosted by Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group (FNP) of Wageningen University.

Tackling global deforestation has been on the agenda of the international community for decades. Different policies, regulations and third-party verification systems have been directed towards conserving the world’s remaining forests and tackling illegal and unsustainable use. While acknowledging the role of businesses and financial institutions in achieving a deforestation free economy, there is an increasing trend to put forward time bound targets.

The livestock sector being the largest contributor to tropical deforestation is relatively slow with commitments. Aynur’s research takes the Italian leather industry as a case study to explore the governance capacity of the sector for potential uptake of “zero deforestation commitments”. Incomplete traceability, complexity of the upstream tier of the supply chain, and lack of negotiation power are among the many challenges the sector is facing. Serving as a new policy tool, these commitments help to enlarge the arena of actors around forest policies and deforestation strategies. Thus, by identifying public and private actors and their power of influence within the governance scheme of the leather sector, the study destructures the traditional commercial supply chain of the sector and restructures it by acknowledging the other actors with power to influence the decision-making process and eventually uptake of sustainable practices.

Although short, the EFI SSV played an important role in the overall PhD research by having long-term outcomes. With the aim to move ahead with the specific subtopics of the 3 year-long research, the objectives of the visit were to take part in academic exchange and enrich the methodological and theoretical approach. To fulfil these objectives, the main activities were organized around participating in the course “Analysing Discourse: Theories, Methods and Technique”, working on weekly reports of the analysis and setting up discussions with academic staff of the University.

As the result of her visit Aynur managed to start working on the topic of discourses, transformational governance arrangements, role of traceability and transparency in the supply chain of leather and sector wide zero-deforestation commitments. She identified political discourse analysis as the most applicable approach, started the coding process for the ENVIVO-run analysis, re-structured the design of the PhD research, enhanced the data collection methods, and settled on the topics for peer-reviewed articles to be co-authored by Dr. Jelle Behagel of Wageningen University.

Overall, the SSV resulted in valuable contributions to overall structure and design of Aynur’s research. It became an important learning experience and inspiration.

Iuliia Polevshchikova (Volga State University of Technology)

Assessment and monitoring of forest cover disturbances to reduce the risk of natural disasters

Iuliia  will be hosted by Dr Mikko Kolehmainen (Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland).

Remote sensing imagery is an integral component in forest cover monitoring for large areas of forest. In Povolzhje (the Volga River Basin) of Russia, there are two main issues that require combined remote sensing: (1) monitoring changes in forest cover (afforestation, reforestation, deforestation, ARD activities); and (2) remote sensing of forest disturbances (forest fires, insect outbreaks) or composition changes in the conditions of climate change.

My research is looking at: (i) identification of different classes of land use and land cover, and its spatial distribution in the Volga region; (ii) determination of the trends, nature, location and magnitude of forest cover change; and (iii) preparation of maps of forest cover and land-use change in the Volga River Basin. Geographic information system (GIS) techniques and remote sensing (RS) from EU and Russian satellite platforms (Modis, Landsat, Rapid Eye, Resurs-B) are used to analyse the forest cover change.

The short scientific visit will allow me to improve the quality of thematic maps and database as a result of use of the following: field material; more absolute research methods; the most up-to-date methods for handling satellite data; space images from different times; analysis of foreign literature; international atmosphere in campus and foreign experience in this research field. We also will be developing methods to quantify wood production, biomass potential, carbon sequestration, deadwood (as an indicator of biodiversity), and forest fire risk.

Martina Sterbova (National Forest Centre – Forest Research Institute Zvolen)

Approaches and methods on valuation of forest ecosystem services in the partner countries: an analysis and case studies

Martina was hosted by Prof. Luděk Šišák (Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague).

In 2016, I finished my PhD. study at the Faculty of Forestry of the Technical University in Zvolen, Slovak Republic. Now, I work as a researcher at the National Forest Centre - Forest Research Institute Zvolen. The topic of my Short Scientific Visit is related to my work as a member of the FOREST EUROPE Expert Group on valuation of and payments for forest ecosystem services (FES).

One of the main reasons we worry about the loss of forests is that they provide valuable services which may be lost or diminished as forests degrade. As a result, raising concerns about the consequences of such loss for forest ecosystem functioning, the provision of ecosystem services and human well-being. Therefore, economic valuation of forest ecosystem services (FES) is necessary. It attempts to answer how valuable are FES or how much worse off would we be if we had less of these services. As utility cannot be measured directly, economic valuation techniques are based on observation of market and nonmarket exchange processes. Economic valuation usually attempts to measure all services in monetary terms, in order to provide a common metric in which to express the benefits of the diverse variety of services provided by ecosystems.

The main objective of SSV was to analyse various approaches and methodologies on valuation of FES existing in the partner countries, with an emphasis on economic valuation methods. The methodology of the project was based on the combination of scientific methods and approaches. It mainly consisted of consultations and interviews with my host Prof. Šišák and with other scientists, literature review, document analysis and descriptive method. The SSV focused on discussion, collection, exchange and analysis of information and research results relevant to the classification of valuation methods/approaches, its description, suitability for the service to be valued, and possible benefits and limitations of its implementation. The attention was also paid to the collection and review of case studies – the best practice examples of valuation methods of FES in the Czech Republic.

The knowledge gained during the SSV was implemented in the first draft of the literature review on valuation methods. The visit helped to develop the document “Analysis of different approaches and methods on valuation of FES in the pan-European region”, which was elaborated by Slovak experts from the National Forest Centre in Zvolen, within the FOREST EUROPE Expert Group on valuation of and payments for forest ecosystem services established according to the FOREST EUROPE Working Programme Action 4.4. Furthermore, the visit gave the opportunity to foster and consolidate the cooperation between the National Forest Centre – Forest Research Institute in Zvolen and the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.

Todora Rogelja (Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova)

Policies supporting social innovation in the forest-based sector: aligning diverging interests and creating synergies in forest use practices

Todora investigated policy framework conditions for supporting social innovation in the forest-use practices. She visited EFICEEC in Vienna where she was hosted by Dr. Alice Ludvig. The visit took place from 01. October –21 October 2017.

In spite of the ‘state of creative destruction’, in many European countries, traditional organization of forest-based sectors ensures domination of public actors, which results in top-down decision-making and exclusion of other stakeholders. Nevertheless, public forest-based sector could utilize social innovation to involve all relevant stakeholders in designing appropriate and innovative governance schemes. 

The SSV is part of a broader Ph.D. research aiming to explore governance capacities of the public actors for supporting social innovation in the forest-based sector. The main objective of the SSV was to gain familiarity with appropriate methods for analyzing how, and to what extent relevant policy programmes (i.e. forestry, rural development, energy, etc.) support/hinder social innovation initiatives based on selected forest-use practices (selected case: Charcoal land initiative in Slovenia). To fulfill the main objective, specific objectives of the conducted visit were to identify and analyze policy programmes relevant for the selected case of Charcoal Land initiative in Slovenia with respect to social innovation and to improve the proposed case study design using Yin (2009) methodology. 

During the visit, Todora identified 18 relevant policy documents on Slovenian national level and comprehended the method for analyzing identified policy document relevant for social innovation. In addition, trough fruitful discussions, the case study design was improved, by clarifying the focus of the case study, fine-tuning the research questions, and enhancing the overall logic of the case. Additionally, future collaborations, as well as joint publications, are planned.  

I can conclude that the EFI SSV proved as inspirational and helpful for strengthening and furthering my research. EFICEEC office had a positive and stimulating environment for a young researcher.

Željko Zgrablić (Croatian Forest Research Institute)

Mycorrhiza control and truffle plantation management: Capacity building for greener rural development

Željko will be hosted by Christine Fischer (Forest Science Center of Catalonia - CTFC).

Truffles are wild forest products, highly prized in gastronomy all over the world. The demand for different truffle species is increasing every year, but production has declined strongly, especially during the last centuries, probably as a result of climate changes and land abandonment in rural areas. As a consequence of previously described factors, several truffle species are grown in controlled plantations. Among those, the Perigord black truffle ( Tuber melanosporum) accounts for more than 90% of all truffle plantations. They play a very important role in rural areas of western Mediterranean where a change in land use and land abandonment is in progress. Truffle plantations contribute to biodiversity increase, soil preservation, fire protection, landscape value and overall, to development of rural areas. As an agroforestry system, they contribute to rural area resilience under a global climate change and decrease the pressure on natural truffle habitats, ensuring the sustainable use of wild forest products, in this particular case, the truffles. Aside from Europe, production of black truffles has recently expanded on all continents, with Australia becoming a significant producer in recent years despite relatively unfavourable ecological conditions.

Vast areas of the eastern Mediterranean are favourable for black truffle production, but production still remains undeveloped. Land abandonment and changes in land use are also in progress, with wildfires becoming another negative factor as a consequence. There are two major reasons why a trufficulture has not make a breakthrough in this part of Europe: (i) the countries in the region have not committed their strategies and legal regulation to allow truffle farming; and (ii) there is an existing large knowledge gap between the experts, potential end users, and other important stakeholders.

Black truffle plantations can be very productive if they are managed properly. It is therefore clear how important is the role of proper plantation management. It requires the knowledge of different maintenance methods and a high quality plant material to start the plantations. Truffle-inoculated seedlings present on the market of western Europe are regularly controlled and evaluated to certify the quality of the product. There are different control methods and standards among the countries and regions. In Spain, the Method for Evaluating Truffle-Inoculated Nursery Seedlings developed by Fisher and Colinas in 1996 (revised 2014), is one of the most reliable tools to estimate the quality of inoculated seedlings, based on combined microscopic and molecular techniques. Furthermore, the trufficulture in Spain has a respected tradition and experience.

Considering the above mentioned facts, the main goal of this short scientific visit is to build up the capacity of the young researcher and help to bridge the existing gap of knowledge towards end users, experts and different stakeholders, by learning new techniques not available at the home institution. Beyond this, the new opportunity contribute to the cooperation between the institutions, stakeholders and experts at a European level.