The project is funded by an European Commission – H2020 MGA MSCA IF grant from 2020 –2022
Forest degradation and biodiversity losses caused by land conversion and over-use have strongly increased since the mid-20th century. Today, only 22% of the global forest area remains as intact forest with little human activity or habitat fragmentation. Despite the exceptional value for global biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and human well-being, only 12% of the intact forests are protected, and many intact forests risk degradation from climate change and increasing human pressures, e.g., conversion to agriculture, extractive harvesting, and fragmentation. However, forest transitions - shift from net deforestation to net reforestation - have occurred widely and rapidly in recent decades. These net increases in forest area are due to active afforestation, reforestation, and spontaneous reforestation following land abandonment. In addition to increases in forest area, reversals from forest degradation to net gains in tree cover and forest quality are also reported from degraded forests. Recent studies highlight that global forest restoration provides us an important opportunity for climate change mitigation. However, the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem processes often fails, e.g., when monocultures are planted, if the landscape is fragmented, or due to social, political and economic pressures. The need to develop strategies for shaping forest transitions has been increasingly highlighted, with active restoration becoming a global priority with billions of dollars invested. The overall objective of FAIR is to link global forest transitions dynamic trajectories, i.e., de- to re-forestation shifts and analogous shifts in intactness, to societal and climate change. FAIR will deliver the quantitative basis for developing sound forest restoration efforts globally by determining: 1) where and how forest transitions have occurred, 2) why they happen in some areas and not in others, 3) where and at which rate transitioning forests develop towards more intact states, and 4) how intensifying societal and climate changes of the Anthropocene affect forest transitions. FAIR will rely strongly on remote sensing satellite data, which has tremendous potential to map, quantify, and monitor forest change at global scale.