Forests play a number of essential roles at global scale, from maintaining biological diversity to mitigating climate change. However, forests around the world are being rapidly cleared to make space for food production, threatening their continued provision of ecosystem services. Preserving the contributions of forests to human and natural systems requires improved understanding of the socio-ecological dynamics that drive, and result from, forest loss. This research will develop the necessary interdisciplinary knowledge to project forest dynamics under future global change.

Scientific significance

While research into natural and unmanaged forests is intensive, it usually adopts disciplinary perspectives that focus on, for instance, ecological dynamics, climate feedbacks or economic optimization of management practices. This precludes consideration of the interactions between human, ecological and climatic systems that will ultimately determine changes in the world’s forests. The formal investigation of these interactions, using interdisciplinary data and methods, is therefore a major and crucial step forward. This research will establish the first conceptual and computational representation of forests as coherent, dynamic socio-ecological systems within the Earth System.

Societal relevance

Forest preservation is a major aim of international policy initiatives, including the ‘Paris Agreement’ for the mitigation of climate change. The ecosystem services provided by forests, both locally and globally, are of huge monetary and non-monetary value to society, and are the subjects of a wide array of different policies, laws, initiatives and campaigns. Identifying ways in which the continued provision of these services can be aligned with economic development and food provision is therefore of central societal importance.


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Forests Publications

Fuchs, R.; Alexander, P.; Brown, C.; Cossar, F.; Henry, R. C.; Rounsevell, M.
Why the US–China trade war spells disaster for the Amazon.
2019. Nature <London>, 567 (7749), 451–454. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00896-2
Brown, C.; Alexander, P.; Arneth, A.; Holman, I.; Rounsevell, M.
Achievement of Paris climate goals unlikely due to time lags in the land system.
2019. Nature climate change. doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0400-5
Blanco, V.; Holzhauer, S.; Brown, C.; Lagergren, F.; Vulturius, G.; Lindeskog, M.; Rounsevell, M. D. A.
The effect of forest owner decision-making, climatic change and societal demands on land-use change and ecosystem service provision in Sweden.
2017. Ecosystem Services, 23, 174–208. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.12.003
Blanco, V.; Brown, C.; Holzhauer, S.; Vulturius, G.; Rounsevell, M. D. A.
The importance of socio-ecological system dynamics in understanding adaptation to global change in the forestry sector.
2017. Journal of environmental management, 196, 36–47. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.02.066
Harrison, P. A.; Dunford, R. W.; Holman, I. P.; Rounsevell, M.
Climate change impact modelling needs to include cross-sectoral interactions.
2016. Nature climate change, 6 (9), 885–890. doi:10.1038/nclimate3039
Prestele, R.; Alexander, P.; Rounsevell, M. D. A.; Arneth, A.; Calvin, K.; Doelman, J.; Eitelberg, D. A.; Engström, K.; Fujimori, S.; Hasegawa, T.; Havlik, P.; Humpenöder, F.; Jain, A. K.; Krisztin, T.; Kyle, P.; Meiyappan, P.; Popp, A.; Sands, R. D.; Schaldach, R.; Schüngel, J.; Stehfest, E.; Tabeau, A.; Van Meijl, H.; Van Vliet, J.; Verburg, P. H.
Hotspots of uncertainty in land-use and land-cover change projections: a global-scale model comparison.
2016. Global change biology, 22 (12), 3967–3983. doi:10.1111/gcb.13337Full text Full text of the publication as PDF document
Shope, C. L.; Maharjan, G. R.; Tenhunen, J.; Seo, B.; Kim, K.; Riley, J.; Arnhold, S.; Koellner, T.; Ok, Y. S.; Peiffer, S.; Kim, B.; Park, J.-H.; Huwe, B.
Using the SWAT model to improve process descriptions and define hydrologic partitioning in South Korea.
2014. Hydrology and earth system sciences, 18 (2), 539–557. doi:10.5194/hess-18-539-2014Full text Full text of the publication as PDF document