Project properties

Title Habitat trees as biodiversity hotspots
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 18-39
Supervisor(s) Jan den Ouden (FEM)
Bart Nyssen (Bosgroep Zuid Nederland)
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. Ir. G.M.J. (Frits) Mohren
Contact info Jan.denouden@wur.nl
Begin date 2017/11/01
End date
Description The main part of the Dutch forests has been developed from the afforestations of former heathlands and driftsands in the past century. The trees are relatively young, often planted in monocultures and forest remain species-poor. In order to increase the diversity in species, the province of Noord-Brabant is developing plans to set up a network within forests of forest refugia (permanently protected areas with no management), groups of habitat trees (old and senescent trees), single habitat trees and dead wood. It is expected that this will increase the habitat quality for many forest-related plant and animal species.
Many of these forests also have a production function. This implies that the area and numbers of these refugia, habitat trees and dead wood have to be reconciled with the consequently reduced production potential of the forest. The loss of income from wood harvest is relatively easily calculated. But how much area should be reserved for refugia and groups of habitat trees, and what density of habitat trees and dead wood should be maintained? It is still unknown how much of this area and (dead) trees should be maintained in order to realize a substantial increase if diversity and species numbers associated with these structures and habitats.
In this thesis project you will do a literature study and investigate which variables determine the optimal size and distribution of refugia, habitat trees (groups and individuals) and dead wood. A major focus will lie on the backgrounds of the instructions and regulations already in place in surrounding countries, and on which criteria should be used when designing an optimal structure for such a network in the heath and drift sand afforestations in the Netherlands.
In this project we will work closely together with Bosgroep Zuid Nederland. Results of the study will be used in the project ‘Uitvoeringsprogramma Biodiversiteit in Brabants Boslandschap’ (“Implementation programme biodiversity in the forest landscape of Brabant”).

Used skills Literature review and analysis
Requirements As an important part of the relevant literature is in German, a good command of the German language (reading) is desired.