Research Program

preliminary remark

Due to the Russian war against Ukraine and the suspension of the Russian partner according to the requirements of our funder, we had to adjust our project plan. This page reflects the approved status as of summer 2022.
The originally planned and approved version can be found here .
Date: 17.08.2022


This project aims at a consistent assessment of the potential future role of Norway spruce in the model regions. To achieve our goal, we hypothesize:

  1. that current trends in growth and productivity, and in mortality and regeneration of Norway spruce in Western Ukraine and Southwest Germany are indicative of a non-sustainable development
  2. that adjusted management practice can stabilise Norway spruce forests so that they can continue to contribute to adaptation and mitigation of climate change

We developed our research plan along three data streams: forest inventory data, forest growth data, and satellite data (see figure above). The three data streams are closely interlinked through the forest growth simulator EFISCEN.

Working packages (WP)

The project workload is split into several working packages. Besides an administrative base working package, there are seven working packages with different foci.

WP 1: Forest inventory data (completed January 2022)

Development of the common template for all project partners for data collection and conducting of data collection which includes information about Norway spruce forest for the agreed regions in Western Ukraine (administrative units: Lviv, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Chernivtsi, Sakarpatska), Northwest Russia (administrative units: Leningrad region, Novgorod region, Pskov region) and Southwest Germany (administrative unit: Baden-Württemberg) in respect of area, growing stock, productivity, distribution of the area and growing stock over age classes (e.g., young, middle aged, premature, mature and over mature), increment (total and mean), allowable and real cuttings as well as damaging factors (incl. mortality). The official forest statistics will be used as the main source of information to guarantee the data quality and respective references. The collected data will serve as the data basis to implement and run the EFISCEN model for scenario modeling of Norway spruce forest development in the future.

This working package was completed in January 2022; there is no joint report or publication due to the suspension of SPSFTU. A short summary of the results can be found in the Annual Report 2021 .

Contact: ALU

WP 2: Growth data base

Selection of sample sites according to different age groups of Norway spruce (age classes: less than 40 years; 41-80 years and more than 80). Additionally, the sample sites will be stratified according to (i) altitude, (ii) slope aspects, (iii) forest site types, (iv) types of geographical positions, for all model regions in Western Ukraine. Increment cores will be taken from sample trees. Tree-ring width will be measured on increment cores using the existing measurement stations at partner institutions.

For the area of southwestern Germany, existing data are used, taken at different locations in the Black Forest along an elevation gradient.

Growth data will be quality checked and cross-dated according to the principles applied in dendroecological and growth and yield studies. The growth data will be preprocessed to same conditions for the compilation of the common growth database.

Contact: UNFU

WP 3: Satellite data base

Collection of satellite images from different sensors (Landsat and Sentinel-2) according to areas of interests of different regions of investigation (Western Ukraine and Southwest Germany). All available satellite data from the beginning of surveying (for example for Landsat from the 1980s, Sentinel-2 from 2015) without cloud cover (less than 10%) will be collected and harmonized. For these images NDVI-indexes will be calculated for detecting relations with growth data. For all three model regions the dynamics of coniferous wood cover will be estimated in 5-year periods.

Contact: UNFU

WP 4: GIS data base

The data obtained in WP2 on tree growth rates (“ground truth”), the data obtained in WP3 on the NDVI (satellite) as well as supplementary data on elevation, slope, exposition, soil properties, temperature and precipitation will be combined in a GIS database for the agreed areas in Western Ukraine and Southwest Germany. After analyzing the structures and formats of the Growth database (WP2) and the Satellite database (WP3) we will select an optimal structure and format for the GIS database for further joint analysis of the growth rates and NDVI and environmental data.

The growth rate, the NDVI data and the environmental data will be used for developing a statistical model of forest increment. The model will be used for projecting of forest development for a set of future climate change scenarios which will be agreed between the partners.

Contact: UNFU

WP 5: Growth simulation

So far EFISCEN has not been used for the assessment of forest development and timber supply based on National Forest Inventory (NFI) data in Baden-Württemberg. The model will be run using the most recent NFI data from 2012. This data as well as those from Western Ukraine and Northwest Russia has to be prepared and specified according to the requirements of EFISCEN. A major task will be to fit the growth functions for Norway spruce. Different scenarios will be developed. The results obtained for the Baden-Württemberg region will be compared with the projections made by the German WEHAM-model for validation. The results of the EFISCEN results for the three regions will be analyzed and interpreted jointly.

Contact: FVA BW

WP 6: Synthesis

Based on the results from the forest growth simulation, the implications of the different scenarios on ecosystem services provided by the forests, like provisioning and regulating services, but also social and supporting services will be discussed. We will use published functional relationships between ecosystem structures (as provided by the scenario modelling) and ecosystem functions to derive a synthesis assessment.

Contact: ALU

WP 7: Outreach

The planned outreach activities aim at transferring the newly generated information and scientific knowledge into forest-based land-use planning in order to guide decision makers on strategic, tactical and operational levels. This will be achieved through the active participation of actors in the dissemination of project results, including

  1. preparation of scientific material/publications based on the data and ideas developed and obtained during the projects’ lifetime
  2. development of teaching materials for the students on bachelor, master and PhD levels, such as thematic modules in the courses on sustainable forest management
  3. using of project outcomes in refreshing teaching
  4. reporting of the project results at scientific conferences, seminars, workshops, summer schools etc. as well as presenting them in mass media and for interested target groups such as forest authorities, forest managers, representatives of forest business, NGOs in nature protection etc., and
  5. through the development of this project website and issue of thematic leaflets.

Contact: UNFU