Multitaxon functional diversity in commercial plantation forests

Kirsty Godsman

Forests are understood to have a major role in supporting life through habitat provision but they also provide multiple ecosystem services such as timber, recreation, climate change mitigation and soil and water protection. Having recognised that the way we use our forests damages them and is not sustainable in the long-term, Sustainable Forest Management principles were formulated to guide foresters to manage more resilient forests.

Kirsty stood in a forest with tall trees.

An increasing proportion of the world’s forests are plantation and there is a growing reliance on these rather than natural woodlands to deliver multiple ecosystem services across many countries. Plantations are increasingly recognised as having a potential role in supporting biodiversity. To understand how plantation forests can be used and managed sustainably in to the future requires a better understanding of the influence of changes in stand structure on biodiversity across different forest types.

This project will determine how taxonomic and functional diversity of spiders, beetles, vascular plants and bryophytes respond to changes in forest structure within a forest stand over a 20 year period through a harvest cycle in Scots pine and Sitka spruce plantation forests and determine the resilience of these taxa to harvesting disturbances.

This project is jointly funded by Edge Hill University and the Scottish Forestry Trust and co-supervised by Dr Anne Oxbrough of Edge Hill University and Dr Nadia Barsoum of Forest Research.