Working Group 1:
Collection and Presentation of Inventory Data
The aim of this working group is to examine and evaluate the present distribution of all remaining coniferous species that require conversion in Europe and to estimate the potential demand for conversion to broadleaf species. In any serious discussion pertaining to conversion, the qualification and quantification of the expanse of forest under non NPV is cardinal. The output of this project will supply this requisite knowledge, and be the most comprehensive analysis of the state of potential conversion sites within Europe. The primary target is to identify today’s distribution of the nominated species, superimpose this with their natural distribution to identify where they are outside their natural range, and then to further superimpose the NPV of broadleaved species to identify where conversion back towards these species should take place.
Working group 2:
This working group researches the capacity to use inventory data in the assessment of stem quality, as well as conducting research to define adequate parameters and adapt inventory methods to monitor the conversion process. The results of this group will be discussed extensively with regard to the other working groups targeting an improvement in the data pool to be used for future research and forest management.
Working Group 3:
This working group examines and evaluates the various silvicultural and operational measures that can be applied the implement the species enrichment and or development of structure conversion in secondary coniferous forests into more stable and resilient stands with increased biodiversity. Furthermore, research will be made into the construction of “best practice” solutions pertaining to how the various silvicultural measures can be most suitably implemented.
Working group 4:
Stand Structure and Dynamics
In the assessment of changing structures within a forest stands, appropriate and accurate indicators and descriptors must be sought to fully describe the process. Therefore, the Stand Structure and Dynamics group assesses the various measures available, and tests them in the context of forest conversion. The group therefore evaluates the statistical correlation with other variables, for example increment, regeneration, habitat functions both within and between forest stands. They also will research the capacity to reconstruct spatial structures using indices and rectify problems associated with edge bias.
Working group 5:
Soil and Water
The characterisation of soil quality maintenance and water cycles, and the changes brought about through conversion are assessed within this ecological working group. nvestigating the impact of conversion on soil processes will enhance the comparative understanding of the functioning of coniferous monocultures verses mixed and / or vertically structured stands with varying proportions of conifers and broadleaved species.
Working group 6:
This ecological working group will extend the knowledge already available and improve understanding of biotic diversity. The improvement of vertical stand structure and / or admixture of site adapted species may improve the stand resilience well as the genetic foundation of the stand. Recommendations will be sought regarding the achievement of stability within biodiversity.
Working group 7:
Carbon Cycling and Sequestration
This third ecological group will also extend previous findings in this field with regard to element cycling and nutrient fluxes within conversion processes. Recommendations will be sought regarding the achievement of sustainable nutrient cycles, though will operate on more of a landscape level, rather than individual stands. They will lso review and consider carbon storage in wood products and the effects of material / fossil fuel substitution.
Working group 8:
This working group aims to identify the main disturbance factors for various secondary coniferous stands and to investigate the main risks and their likely impact on stands under the conversion process. Furthermore, guidance on appropriate forest management and protection measures for maintaining forest health and resilience against biotic and abiotic influences will be made available.
Working group 9:
This group will conduct research into the economical aspects of planning, budgeting and implementation of conversion on forest stands. The large majority of private forest owners, managing an estimated 60% of forest area in Europe, will be affected by coniferous forest conversion. The understanding of the business aspects through conversion is therefore an important issue.
Working group 10:
This economics group will assess the socio-economic aspects of conversion management and to the environment. Since conversion is likely to take longer than a single generation of the tree species, the conversion process is likely to have an effect on the local economy and infrastructure, most markedly in the regions with a high proportion of forest industry. Therefore, adequate approaches must be defined to maintain sustainable development in rural areas, where public welfare and perception of conversion, as well as the acceptance of various silvicultural options to bring about the process are to be considered.