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The project & partners

Forest ecosystems are the keepers of biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes within Europe delivering many ecosystem services to humans. However, as protectors of all kinds of life, forests can also harbour threats and diseases, e.g. ticks that transmit pathogens to humans. To better combine biodiversity conservation with ecosystem management that supports human health and well-being, a group of researchers has set out to quantify the impacts of forest biodiversity on human health.

Main activities

The Dr. FOREST research project consists of tree diversity research sites that are spread out in different climatic regions of Central Europe, namely Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Poland. These diverse forest sites are closely monitored on the following topics: effect of biodiversity on psychological restoration; microclimate; medicinal and edible plants and fungi; disease vectors; clean air; and health impact modelling and assessment. On top of the research sites, three case studies in urban forests will be developed and paired with three stakeholder workshops, in Belgium, France and Germany.

Dr. FOREST will work with stakeholders from local to national to European scales, and will seek to work together in developing useful decision tools, such as policy briefs and guidelines for “Evidence-based Health Assessments of Forest Interventions”. A touring video and photo exhibition on “Forest Diversity and Human Health” will travel across Europe. The exhibition will support the promotion of the project outputs by aiming to raise awareness of interlinkages of biodiversity and human health and the need to better understand the effects and underlying mechanisms with which tree diversity in temperate forests influences human health and well-being.

On local level, site-specific workshops will be organised together with local forest managers, city council planners, NGOs, public health officials and representatives of the private health sector to promote the human health impacts of biodiversity in forests, refine research questions, and support the formulation of management guidelines. At national scale, Dr. Forest will cooperate with networks of practitioners to boost the dissemination of the projects’ outputs.

At European level, a concluding seminar will focus on opportunities and limitations of integrating forest diversity-related benefits and risks into health and biodiversity policies. High-level international stakeholders from E.U. institutions and international organisations will be invited to participate in the seminar for which several have already expressed an interest.

– Geobotany, University of Freiburg, Germany.
– Institute of Forest Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria.
– Department of Environmental Health. Medical University of Vienna, Austria.
– Environmental Sciences, Université Catholique de Louvain- Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
– BOS+ Vlaanderen, Gontrode, Belgium.
– Forest & Nature – Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
– Forest, Nature & Landscape, KU Leuven, Belgium.
– Biodiversity, Genes and Communities (BIOGECO), INRAE, Cestas, France.
– Institute of Psychology, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
– German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research: iDiv – Ecosystem Services, Leipzig, Germany.
– Forest Research Institute Baden-Wuerttemberg, Freiburg, Germany.
– Białowieża Geobotanical Station, University of Warsaw, Białowieża, Poland.

Duration01/02/2020 – 31/01/2023
Total grant1,357,732 €