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Forest transitions in the Anthropocene and their Implications for Restoration values – a global assessment based on remote sensing

Project description

Remote sensors map forest transition types

Forests are the largest storehouse of carbon after the oceans. They play a critical role in the Earth’s climate system by absorbing and storing about 30 % of current levels of carbon emissions. Global efforts to reverse the loss of forest cover focus on protection and reforestation. But forest transitions – where deforestation is replaced by reforestation – are only successful in some areas, not all. The EU-funded FAIR project will use space-borne remote sensing to create the first global map of forest transitions. Specifically, it will show how remote sensing can be used to map forest transition types. It will also investigate how transitioning forests differ from intact forests in structure and composition, and identify how forest transitions are impacted by society and climate change. The answers will contribute to future ecosystem restoration policies.


Only 13.1 million km2 intact forests are left on Earth, and many risk degradations despite their importance for global biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and human well-being. Meanwhile, a global increase in so-called forest transitions, where deforestation is replaced by reforestation, is observed. It is still unclear how and why forest transitions happen in some areas and not in others, to what extent the new forests will recover towards their intact state, and how transitions are affected by the intensifying societal and climate changes of our current human-dominated epoch, the Anthropocene. FAIR aims to deliver the first global map of forest transitions, i.e. de- to reforestation shifts and analogous shifts in intactness, and to test potential links between their dynamic trajectories to societal and climate change. Various remote sensing (RS) products across the globe and novel approaches will be used to answer the following questions: 1) How can RS be used to map forest transition types in human-altered forests? 2) How do transitioning forests differ from intact forests in structure and composition globally? 3) How do increasing societal pressure and climate change affect forest transitions and what are the implications for future restoration? FAIR will be hosted at Aarhus University with supervision of Prof. Svenning, a world-leading expert on macroecology with special interest in trees and forests. The combination of the professional backgrounds of Dr. Li (advanced RS science) and the supervisor will allow FAIR to develop an effective analytical framework and truly novel understanding of forest transitions, providing an important basis for better development of landscape planning to promote forest ecosystem services in the Anthropocene. Prof. Svenning’s strong experience in public outreach and dissemination will facilitate Dr. Li in developing an effective communication strategy for FAIR to contribute to future forest restoration policies.


Net EU contribution
€ 207 312,00
8000 Aarhus C

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Danmark Midtjylland Østjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 207 312,00