Forest disturbance and biodiversity

Forest disturbance regimes are governed by human activities and natural forces. In Central Europe, the importance of human forest disturbance has been declining over the past two centuries: traditional land uses such wood pasture and coppice management were abandoned except in a few areas. More recently, larger clear-cuts were prohibited in many regions (e.g. all across Germany) during a transition to “close-to-nature” forestry. As a result, wood volume increased overall, open and light forests as well as early successional stages disappeared, and associated biodiversity declined. Especially light-demanding insects declined, but also other taxa such as birds inhabiting open habitats. These are often species of conservation concern, as they are associated with traditional, non-intensive land management.
With climate change, natural forest disturbance is predicted to increase through extreme events such as windstorms and fire, and drought-induced bark-beetle outbreaks. It is currently unclear, if the declines in light-demanding forest species can be offset by new forest disturbance, if depleted populations can colonize new disturbance areas, and how communities will differ to those of forest managed with traditional disturbance management such as coppice.

We are currently implementing three projects connecting forest disturbance and biodiversity (for details see below).

Involved researchers
Johannes Kamp, Anne Graser