NEWFORLAND
National Projects
Project duration: 
Jan 2019 to Dec 2021

NEWFORLAND is aimed to analyse new forests expansion in the Iberian Peninsula under Global Change from a multiscale perspective.

Introduction

Forests are expanding in Mediterranean Europe due to strong socioeconomic changes affecting land cover (LC) transitions, although Climate Change (CC) is challenging this recovery. New forests (NF) established in former croplands may differ in their landscape attributes and functioning respect to pre-existing ones (whether or not subjected to timber exploitation) due to land use legacies. The expansion of NF may affect biodiversity conservation and key ecosystem functions and services (habitat provision, fragmentation, carbon sequestration) although vulnerability of NF to CC has been seldom explored. NEWFORLAND is aimed to analyse NF expansion in the Iberian Peninsula under Global Change (GC) from a multiscale perspective.

 

The main objectives are: (1) to carry out a detailed spatiotemporal analysis of the driving forces of forest expansion and to provide this information to planners and managers in a clear way; (2) to evaluate the ecological role of NF and their provision of ecosystem functions and services; (3) to assess the vulnerability of NF to CC; and (4) to deliver forest open data and web services to scientists, decision-makers and society (e-laboratory).

The first objective starts with an important improving of the existing climate and general LC geodatabases, both in geographic and temporal extent, and with a NF map development from remote sensing (RS) imagery, using specifically developed RS and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV, drones) methods; CC and LC metrics will be developed, and main driving forces of NF transitions from abandoned croplands analysed. In the second objective, we will explore the effects of new forest establishment on landscape properties and ecological connectivity, using state of the art connectivity indices. We will also estimate the contribution of new forests to C storage through spatially modelling biomass and C stocks from lidar and forest inventories. The resulting maps will be used to infer biomass and C accumulation through comparing values per different forest ages. The third objective starts with a broad study of growth and vulnerability to climate memory indices (e.g. drought) of new and pre-existing evergreen and deciduous broadleaved forest across the Iberian Peninsula, considering climatic and topographic gradients. Next, the objective focuses in the particular case of Quercus ilex and Fagus sylvatica in Catalonia, as case-studies of forests at their ecological optimum and rear edge respectively. Recent and pre-existing stands of these forests will be characterised in terms of land use legacies effects on soil, structure, demography and functional traits to model their potential vulnerability to increasing drought. The last objective will produce and deliver datasets with information on the forest-global change interaction in a targeted format for planners and managers. We want to increase map browser capabilities of stakeholders beyond pure map visualization, through a new concept of e-laboratory allowing the analysis and comparison of in-situ and RS data. We will also provide tools to efficiently transfer scientific knowledge to decision makers and educate society in GC issues. 

Conclusions

To sum up, the project will provide updated conceptual approaches, datasets, methodologies and results to face the challenge of how preserving Mediterranean forests NF but also the rest and their ecological functions and services under Land Use and Climate Changes.