Mechanisms of ecosystem services in hardwood floodplain forests: Scientific analysis and optimization of conservation management
The biodiversity of ecosystems is the basis for multiple services of nature: floodplain hardwood forests harbor an extraordinary biological diversity, while storing carbon in biomass and soils (C sequestration). Additionally, these forests affect the roughness and the water retention capacity of the floodplains, mitigating flooding events.
Pristine hardwood forests belong to the most species-rich ecosystems in Central Europe. Besides their ability to provide diverse habitats, they offer valuable ecosystem services for water retention, climate protection and human recreation. Despite their high value for nature conservation and social benefits, hardwood floodplain forests have decreased to approximately 1 % of the active floodplains in Germany, due to multiple land-use demands. This is the case at the Middle Elbe River, where only small and fragmented hardwood forests exist. To conserve and foster these highly dynamic ecosystems in our intensively used landscape is a challenging task. Only when society realizes the relevance of their services are increased socio-economic efforts for their conservation likely. In this regard, the project MediAN aims at increasing the knowledge on the ecosystem services provided by hardwood floodplain forests and making this knowledge available for education, the public and regional or political stakeholders.
top: Hardwood forest at winter time; photo: Andre Kuenzelmann
below: Hardwood forest at Mid-Elbe after spring time flooding event; photo: Mathias Scholz
right: Hardwood forest with characteristic spring time geophytes , Foto: Philipp Gerhardt
The overall research aim of the project MediAN is, firstly, a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the ecosystem services of hardwood floodplain forests and, secondly, to quantify the spatio-temporal variability of these services. Scientists from the fields of Plant Ecology (University of Hamburg), Soil Science (University of Hamburg), Soil Zoology (Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz), Nature Conservation (Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig), and Landscape Economy (TU Berlin) work together to analyze which biodiversity components effect the ecosystem services and how to assess them. In the study area along the Middle Elbe River, we investigate the diversity and carbon sequestration in differently aged hardwood forests of the active floodplain, the seepage zone in the former floodplains and along tributaries of the Elbe River. Further, we will quantify the structure of the forests to include this information in models of the hydrological roughness of differently aged hardwood floodplain forests. Finally, we will upscale the results and estimate the economic value of the ecosystem services of the hardwood floodplain forests.
The project MediAN will promote the discussion and exchange between different stakeholders from the Middle Elbe Region. Representatives from forestry, agriculture, water and nature conservation authorities, NGOs and tourism will meet in annually organized stakeholder workshops. In these workshops, the scientists and practitioners of the project MediAN will present and discuss new results regarding ecosystem services of floodplains with stakeholders.
For the development of hardwood floodplain forests, implementation partners of the MediAN-project (Loki Schmidt Foundation and BUND - Friends of the Earth Germany, Centre for Floodplain Ecology at Lenzen Castle) will identify and buy appropriate land. Here, planted woody species and supplemented typical species of floodplain herbaceous plant communities will serve as initial hardwood floodplain forests and facilitate increasing ecosystem services for the region. We will evaluate the success and functioning of the conducted measures within the time-span of the project MediAN. We will publish resulting knowledge about initializing hardwood floodplain forests in the form of booklets and guidelines for practitioners. Furthermore, we will develop new education concepts and materials for increasing the public perception for the benefits of hardwood floodplain forests.
Take home: MediAN flyer (in German)
- Prof. Dr. Kai Jensen
- Dr. Kristin Ludewig
- Dr. Simon Thomsen
- Dr. Christoph Reisdorff
- Anastasia Leonova
- Heather Shupe
- Prof. Dr. Annette Eschenbach
- Dr. Alexander Gröngröft
- Dr. Joscha Becker
- Adrian Heger
- Lizeth Karina Vasconez Navas
- Prof. Dr. Klaus Henle
- Mathias Scholz
- Timo Hartmann
- Dr. David J. Russell
- Dr. Nicole Scheunemann
- Prof. Dr. Volkmar Hartje
- Dr. Kati Häfner
- Dr. Meike Kleinwächter
- Gunnar Oehmichen
- Sonja Biwer
- Axel Jahn
- Paula Höpfner
- Duration: 01.02.2017-31.01.2023
- Project lead: Prof. Dr. Kai Jensen
- Sponsor: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Förderkennzeichen 01LC1601A