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Forest dynamics in Switzerland - pattern, driving forces and ecological implications


Many regions and countries around the world show a change in trend from decreasing to expanding forest areas, which has been called “forest transition” by Mather (1992). This transition is relevant for various topics, such as landscape aesthetics, biodiversity and carbon accounting.To assess and identify forest dynamics, patterns of change as well as ecological implications, the forest changes in Switzerland will be reconstructed. The retrospective analysis will be based on contemporary and historical maps (i. e. Gyger-Map for the Canton of Zurich, and Dufour-Map and Siegfriedatlas for Switzerland). Based on digitized point data (1.4 km raster as in NFI), the spatial-temporal dynamics of forest area will be analyzed for Switzerland since 1840. Separately, a case study for Canton of Zurich will be conducted based on polygon data for the past 333 years, providing additional information about continuity and connectivity of forest area. In the second part of the project, main factors driving change in forest cover will be determined by combining spatially explicit modeling with explorative historical landscape analyses. Finally, the implications of forest cover changes will be assessed for selected ecosystem goods and services.