The IUFRO Forest Biodiversity Research Group addresses the influence of human-made and natural disturbances on biodiversity and explores the relationship between forest biodiversity and ecosystem processes and functions. Its research aims to contribute to strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of forests to anthropogenic impacts, natural disasters, and the effects of climate change worldwide, and eventually to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity.
During an in-depth interview, the coordination team of the IUFRO Forest Biodiversity Research Group explains why biodiversity is so important. The coordination team includes: Dr. Kamal GANDHI, University of Georgia, USA; Dr. Anne OXBROUGH, Edge Hill University, UK; Dr. Maria SANTOS, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Dr. Anna BARBATI, University of Tuscia, Italy.
The strongest anthropogenic drivers of forest biodiversity loss are land use change (through deforestation), overexploitation (through use of forests for timber and non-timber forest products), and invasion by high impact alien species. The most critical consequences are local population extinctions and the rearrangement of the biological interactions fundamental to maintaining forest ecologicdal communities and their functioning.
Research suggests that maintaining genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity across a range of scales, is the best way to ensure resilient forests that can adapt to change. Thus, biodiversity is crucial to the continuation of our forest ecosystems across the globe and our efforts should seek to maximize the local biodiversity within any given habitat.
Maintaining biodiversity will help ensure that we have functional redundancy in our forest ecosystems, i.e. many species are able to carry out roles. Where this is not possible, it is vital that keystone species and ecosystem engineers are a priority for both sustainable forest management and conservation efforts.