Monday, 5 October 2020

Grant recipient:
Per Gundersen, Professor, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen

Project title:
Silva Nova – Restoring soil biology and soil functions to gain multiple benefits in new forests

Co-applicants:
Inger Kappel Schmidt, Professor, Dept. of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Leho Tedersoo, Research Professor, Natural History Museum, Estonia

T. Martijn Bezemer, Professor, Institute of Biology, Leiden University, Netherlands

Brief description:
The research will focus on how to use afforestation as an instrument in combatting climate change by sequestering carbon in trees but also how to use the resulting forests as habitats for species that can help to strengthen biodiversity. The project will investigate whether inoculating former arable land with soil from old forests will make establishing new forests on agricultural land faster and more efficient. The hypothesis is that microorganisms that benefit tree growth are not present in agricultural land and that transplantation can establish the right microbiome to support and accelerate forest restoration.

“When we plant trees in a field, a forest eventually grows. However, soil processes, the microbiome and plant communities continue to resemble fallow land. Regenerating the soil to support forests may thus take centuries. Our project will explore the transition from field to forest and find methods to turbocharge this development to benefit biodiversity and the environment. In Denmark, we have a plan to double the forest area. This is a massive project that will change the landscape. This generous grant for research on afforestation will ensure that, if all goes well, society will reap additional benefits from the plan,” says Per Gundersen, who is receiving DKK 60 million for his research.