Forests are among the most prominent and diverse ecosystems on this planet. While society demands that forest management remains sustainable and resembles natural processes, it must also ensure stable timber yields for industrial wood products and other services. For these often conflicting objectives, our scientists evaluate measures for maintaining and restoring healthy forests and their ecological integrity. Another key responsibility of forest scientists today is to increase the adaptative potential of forests to climatic changes.
One of our primary responsibilities is the collection, validation, and storage of data on the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems. We engage in research activities ourselves but also coordinate standardized national and international inventories and monitoring activities, i.e., the National Forest Inventory (BWI), the National Forest Soil Survey (BZE), the International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests (ICP Forests). From this data national and international reporting duties arise, e.g., the publication of reports on the condition of forests in Europe under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP), and the German Greenhouse Gas Inventories (THG). Our Forest Data Centre combines this inventory data with data from other sources – for instance climate information – and makes it openly available to scientists, policy makers, and the general public.
What makes us unique is that we not only specialize in such diverse fields as wildlife ecology, hydrology, soil science, forest yield science, eco-physiology, and vegetation ecology; but that we further interlink outcoming datasets in a standardized and transparent way. We see ourselves as a ‘cross-sectional institute’ in the cross-disciplinary field of forest ecology and value the cooperation with other Thünen Institutes and external national as well as international partners.
Our research focuses on the following questions:
Based on our expert knowledge and research results, we provide political decision makers with key information on how to maintain healthy forests and the services they provide to us all.