By Jean-François Bastin
Recently, Jean-François recently spent a week at the European Conference on Tropical Ecology in Paris. Here’s the second instalment his trip.
What happened next Jean-Francois?
After the 1st presentation I went back to my slides and worked on the presentation I was presenting the day after in a session I co-chaired with Dr. Claude Garcia (also from ETH-Zurich). In this session we were aiming to present the work we realized through the CoForTips project led by Claude, that joined various types of scientists (statisticians, modellers, ecologists, geographers and people from human sciences) with one objective in mind : developping scenarios to assess the resilience of the biodiversity in the congo basin.
Why did you focus on biodiversity resilience?
Climate change will affect the state of the forest. Existing studies are mainly focused on the risk of the shift from forest to savanna systems, but no studies are really focusing on changes that can actually occur WITHIN the forest. Changing tree communities within forest can have substantial impacts on forest dynamics, functions and services, all of which are very important factors to understand in order to understand the current climate change.
How did you do it?
Combining 180, 000 inventory plots gathered by forest private companies with our knowledge and expertise on forest ecology, we developed models to assess the impact of several climate change scenarios on the risk of shift of communities within the forest. To describe communities we mainly accounted for two things : the variation in deciduous trees and some proxies allowing to assess if we deal with a young (50-150 years) or an old-growth (+400 years) forest.
What did you find?
Well, according to our results, forests from the congo basin will undergo huge changes with important increases in the proportion of deciduous in regions now dominated by evergreens and important loss of old-growth forest in favor of younger forests. We expect our results and our maps to be useful for the science community but also for policy makers, in order to guide conservation strategies as best as possible and limit critical loss in forest functions and services.
These result are about to be submitted soon for publication… so you will need a bit of patience before seeing them out!
Thanks JF! Look out for Part 3 when Jean-François headed to Geneva for the last part of his week of meetings.