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Hidden Emissions of Forest Transitions: GHG effects of socio-metabolic processes reducing pressures on forests

Objective

A forest transition, i.e. forest expansion after a long period of deforestation, has occurred in many, mostly industrialized countries. Forest transitions have recently resulted in declining rates of global net deforestation and contributed to carbon (C) sinks in terrestrial ecosystems. Studies have shown the concurrence of forest transitions and industrialization processes, but the systemic links between forest transitions, their underlying socio-metabolic processes and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been neither systematically explored nor quantified.

HEFT introduces the idea of “hidden emissions of forest transitions”, i.e. the GHG emissions from socio-metabolic processes reducing pressures on forests. Hidden emissions may stem from processes such as substitution of fuelwood by modern energy sources, intensification of agriculture, and externalization of biomass production to remote regions. Building on the concept of socio-ecological metabolism, HEFT develops a consistent methodological framework to quantify the full GHG emissions and sinks from socio-metabolic and ecological processes in the course of forest transitions, within which their hidden emissions are identified. Forest transitions in multiple contexts are analyzed at local, national and supranational scales: in Europe since c. 1850, North America since c. 1880, and South East Asia since 1980. A coarse global-scale assessment complements the regional case studies.

We will integrate sources and analytical methods from environmental and social sciences as well as the humanities to analyze context-specific trajectories and general features of socio-ecological GHG budgets and their respective socio-political contexts since the onset of forest transitions. The sound understanding of hidden emissions will be used to identify the least GHG-intensive trajectories and to draw lessons for future climate-friendly forest transitions.

Call for proposal

ERC-2017-STG
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Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITAET FUER BODENKULTUR WIEN
Address
Gregor Mendel Strasse 33
1180 Wien
Austria
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 401 941

Beneficiaries (2)

UNIVERSITAET FUER BODENKULTUR WIEN
Austria
EU contribution
€ 1 401 941
Address
Gregor Mendel Strasse 33
1180 Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSITAET KLAGENFURT

Participation ended

Austria
EU contribution
€ 0
Address
Universitaetsstrasse 65-67
9020 Klagenfurt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments