INBO Research Challenges

New challenges for forest research

Forest research at INBO has a strong focus on long-term monitoring and experiments that are also internationally embedded, such as for ICP Forests, forest reserve monitoring and selection research. We feed policy and society proactively with new results and products, such as early-detection systems for diseases and pests through our tree diagnosis centre.

Since 2017, we have taken on the role of facilitator to identify research needs and better streamline cooperation between different research partners. There is also a structural dialogue with stakeholders through the Forest Research User Platform.

The end users of our research, such as forest owners, forest managers and policy makers, are increasingly confronted with the uncertainties of climate change, combined with environmental pollution.

This leads to a variety of research questions such as:

  • What new risks are coming our way, e.g. diseases, storms, drought?
  • How can we make our forests more climate-robust, e.g. through management that takes the forest microclimate into account?
  • Which tree species and provenances are best to plant for a resilient forest in the future? What are the potential ecological and economic uncertainties of assisted migration?
  • What is the impact of nitrogen deposition on the health of our forests, especially soil organisms? Can we actively restore forest soils, g. by adding alkaline minerals?
  • What is the contribution of forests in carbon sequestration (see also the research challenge 'Ecosystem-based mitigation')? And can owners be compensated for their efforts to increase in situ carbon stocks ?

At the same time, there is anĀ  intensified European focus on climate-resilient sustainable forests. In this context, more detailed reporting is necessary on the state of our forests and the provenances we use: there are initiatives for a European law on forest reproductive material and a European forest monitoring law. The European Forest Strategy and the European Biodiversity Strategy also include high ambitions for forest health, forest protection and forest expansion.

Moreover, for Flanders, there is the specific objective of 10,000 ha net forest expansion by 2030. Which sites are most appropriate for this forest expansion and which afforestation techniques, species and provenances give the best results?

To answer all these questions, we need to gear up. This can be done by using innovative measurement and monitoring techniques, such as remote sensing, deep learning, eDNA, LiDAR, ... and increasing capacity in our institute.

The forest research consultation networks, the Researchers' Platform and the Users' Platform, have proven to be very effective: we intend to further expand and strengthen them.


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