This summer ForES PhD student Kathleen Conroy and Postdoc Francesco Martini of Trinity College Dublin represented our project at a number of conferences and summer schools. Here's an update on what they have been working on and what's to come...
Kathleen Conroy attended the British Ecological Society Trees for Climate Change, Biodiversity and People symposium. She presented a poster entitled “Creating Ecosystem Extent Accounts to Understand Land Use Change in Irish Forests” on June 28, speaking about the ForES project and the extent accounts the team have been creating for Irish Coillte estates. Several fellow speakers discussed the importance of monitoring and preserving forestry ecosystem services. They also raised the challenges they faced doing projects similar to ForES, such as understanding stakeholders’ targets, finding ways to increase biodiversity and adjusting species selection based on climate change projections.
Kathleen attended a Summer School organised by three COST Action projects: 3DForEco Tech (focusing on using technology to monitor forest ecosystems), Bottoms-Up (focusing on gathering multi-taxon biodiversity data to inform forest management) and PROCLIAS (focusing on modelling climate change) in Slovenia from July 10-14. Presenting the same poster, she spoke more on the ForES project goals and research questions. At the summer school, she learned about Lidar and mapping forests with terrestrial laser scanners and how this data can be used to assess the structure of a forest or a single tree.
She also learned about measuring biodiversity with an emphasis on β diversity which examines two sites' compositional dissimilarities. Finally, she was taught about empirical (statistics based), and process-based (mathematics-based) models and how they can be used to understand climate change effects on forests.
Francesco Martini took part in the Botany Conference in Boise, Idaho, USA, from July 22-26, where he presented his talk titled 'Creating ecosystem extent accounts to understand land use change in Irish forests', introducing the ForES project and the results of the extent accounts. He provided details on one site in particular, Glendine, and a general overview of the land cover changes that occurred in the 25 sites used for the project between 2000 and 2018. Being a mostly American audience, with different experiences of forests and forestry compared to Ireland, most questions were on the general history and status of the Irish forests as well as the challenges that are being faced going into the future.
Francesco also judged posters and oral presentations by graduate and undergraduate students eligible for the best presentations conference awards and was elected Vice-Chair of the Ecology Section of the Botanical Society of America. Overall, it was a great opportunity to interact with a broad range of botanists working on a variety of research areas, to listen to diverse talks from ecosystems spanning from tropical forests to deserts to tundra, and to present the unique context of Irish forests to the conference attendees. A common message that connected many talks and posters was the interconnection and interdependency between all parts of the biosphere, including plants, animals, and humans.
Kathleen participated in the summer school Promowood: The Future of Wood which was organised by the ETH-Domain initiatives MainWood & SCENE, the SwissForestLab and the NFZ.forestnet from August 19-26. Kathleen presented ForES project there as a poster and graphical abstract. Kathleen, picture below out on excursion and mid-presentation, learned about lifecycle assessment of wood products and cascading use, meaning that wood will be used for several different things in its lifetime (e.g., veneer to plywood to chip wood to fibre products then finally to chips for burning).
Other presentations included research into the strength of wood and its future use in construction, disseminating information to diverse audiences through different mediums and affectively engaging with stakeholders. The participants went on excursions to see the effects of avalanches on forests and how forests provide protection to communities from such disasters. Another excursion was to a sawmill where students saw how wood was processed and selected for musical instruments.
Keep an eye out for the For-ES team this Autumn. They will be presenting at the International Agroforestry Conference (16/11-17/11) in Cork and the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting (12/12-15/12) in Belfast.