Research

Urban forest ecosystem services

There is growing recognition of the crucial role of urban forests for providing opportunities for people living in cities to experience nature on a daily basis, and receive the ecosystem service benefits provided by natural environments. Urban greenspaces, which include city natural forests, parks, greenbelts, open spaces, trails and managed forests, provide urban residents with recreational opportunities, air and water purification, urban noise reduction, climate regulation and a natural viewsheds. There is increasing evidence that these benefits are implicitly valued by urban residents, who are often willing to pay significantly more to live in close proximity to greenspaces and the services they provide. The IFD lab is just starting a large project to quantify and map a range of ecosystem services across the urban forests of Prince George, as well as comparative work in sister cities in British Columbia. This project will involve field surveys, remote sensing using LiDAR and modelling.

Mapping cumulative environmental pressures

The human modification of the planet is precipitating a new epoch, dubbed the Anthropocene, and concurrently a global mass extinction crisis. These issues are especially acute in Canada, where large-scale infrastructural expansion is underway for a burgeoning oil and gas industry, and much of the North becomes increasingly accessible to forestry, mining and trade. The IFD lab is undertaking a range of research to improve our understanding of how cumulative environmental pressures impact biodiversity and wilderness across broad spatial scales in Canada and globally. A major output from this work as been the release in the first temporally inter-comparable global human footprint maps and maps of the extent of intact wilderness areas. These data are available for public download.

Borneo green forestry

The IFD lab is partnered with The Nature Conservancy on a Science for Nature and People (SNAP) project in the Berau Regency, Indonesia. Berau lies at the north eastern end of the Island of Borneo, and spans about 2 million hectares, and includes protected virgin tropical forest (17%), forests under a range of silvicultural systems (43%) and non-forest land uses. Berau has emerged as a national focal-point for demonstrating sustainable green development, and we’re contributing to this by working to answer the question “How do we achieve the greatest conservation and human well-being outcomes in Berau while meeting target levels of wood product net present value?”. The work is in the early stages, and a post-doc (Rebecca Runting) will be be joining the IFD lab in December 2016 to contribute to this work.