Alterra and the European Forest Institute have made publicly available their twenty-year-old European Forest Information Scenario Model (EFISCEN). The model contains a database of forest inventory data from 32 European countries. The database includes information such as forest species, mortality, growth, and age. With this data, forest managers, researchers, policy makers, and the general public can assess and describe the composition and content of Europe’s forests.
Additionally, the model contains information on variables such as biodiversity, recreation, and wind and fire risk, which combined with the basic inventory data, can allow researchers, policy makers, and forest managers to model the impact of different forest initiatives and external pressures on European forests. This includes assessing different climate change scenarios, modeling the current and potential carbon sequestration capacity of forests, and simulating soil carbon processes. By making the model open source, the hope is that novel applications of the data and model will be developed and that individuals will be able to use the data and model to better understand European forests.
The database has already been used to conduct research in mountain areas in Europe. A 2015 study used the database to map 18 ecological parameters, which included both ecosystem services (ES) and biodiversity parameters, across the French Alps (Crouzat et al. 2015). This allowed the researchers to determine where the parameters co-occurred and thus to describe ecosystem services bundles, or places where several ecosystem services overlapped, and to relate these bundles to specific landscape features. They found that homogenous and heterogeneous landscapes can provide a range of ecosystem services, even though the expectation was that homogenous landscapes would provide only a limited number of services. This means that homogenous mountain landscapes, managed properly, can provide a range of ecosystem services.
As demand increases for ecosystem services from mountain regions, EFISCEN data can be used to explore what services are available where and how these services might be sustainably managed. The PEGASUS project, a project in which Euromontana is a partner, will benefit from this data as well as the project pursues its objective of improving the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agricultural and forest land in the EU.
Initial registration is required to access the database, but registration is free. For more information, please visit the EFISCEN webpage. There you can find information on topics including ways the database can be used, how to use the database, and publications that have used EFISCEN data.
Crouzat, E., Mouchet, M., Turkelboom, F., Byczek, C., Meersmans, J., Berger, F., et al. (2015). Assessing bundles of ecosystem services from regional to landscape scale: insights from the French Alps. Journal of Applied Ecology, 52(5), 1145-1155.7 July 2016