Project description / abstract:
From a socio-ecological perspective, forests are more than ecosystems dominated by woody plants: They are managed and used by people, providing timber, fuelwood and other resources, and their area extent is often constrained by land demand for other purposes, most notably agriculture. Viewing forests from such a multi-dimensional perspective sheds light on the biophysical preconditions and consequences of forest change related to land and resource use, and on potential problem shifts associated to forest change.
In the research project HEFT, we study forest transitions, i.e. long-term and large-scale shifts from net deforestation to reforestation in different geographical and historical periods, and how they are linked to changes in land and energy use. The ultimate aim in the project is to identify and quantify processes that enable reforestation but cause additional emissions („hidden emissions“) outside the forest sector, e.g. through agricultural intensification, land displacement or woodfuel substitution.
In my presentation I will provide insights from ongoing collaborative work in the project, investigating forest transitions in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia in both case-specific and comparative ways. Our work aims at better quantifying and understanding forest transitions trajectories, contextualizing forest transitions by changes in land and energy use, and addressing issues of access and justice emerging in the context of forest protection.
Simone Gingrich is senior researcher at the Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU). She holds a Master degree in ecology (University of Vienna), a PhD in social ecology (Universitaet Klagenfurt), and a habilitation in social ecology (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna). Her research addresses the change of sustainability challenges in the course of industrialization, focusing on the interface of land and energy use. She works in interdisciplinary ways, adapting methods from environmental accounting to historical time periods, and linking quantitative assessments of biophysical processes to qualitative analyses of societal change. In 2017 she was awarded with an ERC starting grant („HEFT“, ERC StG 757995), and in 2018 she was elected as a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences‘ Young Academy.