Global change is globally altering forest ecosystems with negative effects on forest productivity, mortality and regeneration. These impacts ultimately compromise the provision of critical ecosystem services to human well-being. Expected negative effects of global change on forest functioning are especially noticeable in drought-prone areas. The coupling of higher temperature and lower precipitation has been coined as hotter droughts, which implies more intense drought stress in plants. Hotter droughts are, in fact, behind recent forest decline and dieback episodes, and failure in seedling establishment. All these processes can trigger the deterioration of forest ecosystems services, and more importantly, can change the community structure of vulnerable forest ecosystems. In addition, management legacies and the subsequent abandonment of traditional forest use have resulted in very dense and structurally and functionally homogeneous stands, which aggravates climate change impacts. Thus, there is an urgent need to improve knowledge and technical capacity with forest management strategies that improve water balance in plants, to ultimately increase the forests’ resilience to shifts in climate.
The project will aim at evaluating forest management and restoration strategies to mitigate global change impacts on forest ecosystems, with a special emphasis on decreasing risks, promoting short-term resistance, and enhancing long-term resilience in drought-prone forests.