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Dynamics of ecosystem services in forest ecosystems is a two-year (2013-2015) research project funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council under the BESS (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Sustainability) research programme.

The project aims to identify the form of the quantitative relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem functions and services at the landscape scale, and to establish whether there are critical levels of biodiversity that are required in wooded landscapes for provision of such services.

Woodlands in many parts of the world are currently at risk because of the combined effects of climate change, aerial pollution, overgrazing and the spread of pests and diseases. These factors can interact with each other, leading to the collapse of wooded ecosystems and their replacement with other plant communities. Research is needed to identify which woodland areas are at risk of such collapse occurring, so that appropriate management responses can be identified. Information is also needed on the potential impacts of such “ecosystem thresholds”, both on wildlife and on humans, through changes in the provision of ecosystem services.

This project aims to provide this information, by studying woodlands in the New Forest National Park. Research will comprise a combination of field surveys along gradients of forest dieback, resurvey of long-term plots and use of spatially explicit models of ecosystem dynamics. The project will help increase understanding of how major ecological changes occur in woodlands, and their potential ecological and societal impacts.

Read the latest project updates in the News page.