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13 June 2019

Towering above restoration

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The relationship between forests, water and climate is complicated. To understand how forest restoration impacts water and climate processes, WeForest is participating in a new flux tower experiment, led by ESALQ - University of São Paulo and The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD). The tower is being built in the middle of a 30 hectare experimental restoration forest in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, São Paulo state.

Flux towers measure the exchange of water, energy and carbon (CO2) between forests and the atmosphere, allowing scientists to make predictions of how forests will respond to a changing climate and how land use change (for example deforestation) will impact global climate change.

Linking tree diversity to ecosystem functioning

The experiment will study the relationship between tree diversity and ecosystem functioning.  The effects of tree species composition, drought and soil fertility on water and carbon cycles will be studied over the course of many years.  Water and carbon fluxes measured over the entire ‘life history’ of the growing forest (from bare ground before planting to mature forest) will help in understanding the role of tree species diversity on ecosystem water and carbon cycles. This will help us to find out which species of trees, planted in which combinations can maximise benefits for water and for carbon sequestration and how these species will respond to increasingly frequent drought events due to climate change.

Understanding the ecological effects of our restoration work

This data will help in understanding carbon and water cycles in other restored areas of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, such as the WeForest restoration sites. This will help us to improve our restoration and management techniques to maximise benefits for water and climate.

Photos: Joannès Guillemot (CIRAD)

Rachel

Rachel Cohen

PhD Forest Ecology
Science and Policy Assistant
Rachel provides support to WeForest’s science and policy programme, contributing to developing and co-ordinating applied research projects, science communication and policy research. Rachel’s background is in forest ecology, she holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, UK where she focused on advancing the methodologies for tropical forest biomass estimation.