All Open Questions

Do mixed forests allow to produce high value timber?

The aim of beech management is to produce high value timber. Producing high value timber means producing valuable logs of good quality characterised by diameter over 60 cm under bark, knot free parts of the lower stem, thin and sound knots, knotty core of 20 cm at maximum, no discolorations (redheart). Logs should also be highly resistant to abiotic damages, tending and harvesting costs should be minimised. Especially with beech management it is important to consider such single crop trees which have these favourable conditions.

Is it possible to introduce earthworm populations as part of a forest soil restoration strategy?

The decline of tree vitality in industrialised countries observed since the 1970s is often attributed to the degradation of forest soils. Such degradation processes can be hard to reverse because of the irreversible and sometimes mutually strengthening character of certain soil chemical, biological and physical processes. Tree species change can be seen as a way that interrupts the degradation spiral, because it might strongly influence soil characteristics.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity is defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.” Ideally, to assess the conditions and trends of biodiversity, it is necessary to measure the abundance of all organisms over space and time, using taxonomy (such as the number of species), functional traits (for example, the ecological type such as nitrogen-fixing plants like legumes versus non-nitrogen-fixing

Does tree species mixture influence carbon storage in the aboveground biomass?

The species composition of the dominant species in a forest determinate the carbon storage in the aboveground biomass. Here it is important to find out if tree species richness and functional diversity can explain the variation in above-ground carbon storage. If this effects are significant, this would allow to enhance carbon stocks through both increased biomass production and increased carbon contents in wood biomass in mixed compared to pure stands.

Is soil biological activity influenced by tree species composition?

The functional and structural diversity of tree communities - rather than taxonomic diversity
- can affect the structure and composition of belowground communities. Therefore the decomposer communities can be influenced by tree species mixture, which in turn will influence nutrient turnover rates.

Is understorey vegetation diversity associated with tree species diversity in European forests?

Despite its relatively low biomass compared to the forest overstorey, the diversity and functional importance of the shrub and herb layer is high. For instance, it is a potential nectar source for pollinators, provides habitat for small mammals, affects tree regeneration, invasion resistance and influences decomposition and nutrient cycling. Therefore it is important to know if the understorey vegetation diversity is associated with the tree species diversity in European forests.

Why is biodiversity loss a concern?

Biodiversity contributes directly (through provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services) and indirectly (through supporting ecosystem services) to many constituents of human well-being, including security, basic material for a good life, health, good social relations, and freedom of choice and action. 

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