11 December 2015

11 Dec: A star atop every tree – forests, forestry and sustainable development


Today’s advent researcher wants to ensure that our forests are healthy, productive and contribute to a sustainable future.

Forests are important for securing the lives and living conditions of future generations. Forests and forestry can serve to significantly increase wood production, which is necessary if we are to combat climate change according to Professor Palle Madsen of the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management. Fifty to one hundred years from now, forest productivity can be increased by between 50 and 100 percent.

 “Our consideration of nature and other important forest functions does not need to take a back seat to increased productivity. With a focused approach, we can definitely find space for biodiversity and nature. But we must use significant parts of our forests with an eye to liberating us from our dependence on fossil fuels and materials such as steel, cement and aluminium, all of which require tremendous amounts of energy to produce. This must take place with consideration to climate and thereby, sustainability.”

Rejuvenation of trees species

This is not simply to secure forests and forestry:

“The challenge is for us to ensure that we can rejuvenate the presence of desired tree species in our future forests, in a manner that is effective and economically wise. If we fail, we risk losing variety in our forests. And this will affect the ability of forests to perform their natural functions, at a time when climate change and non-native forest pests and diseases threaten to make life difficult for a number of tree species,” explains Professor Madsen.

For Palle Madsen, it is important to ensure that our forests are healthy and productive. Trees and tree biomass are already the largest component of our renewable material and energy supply – far greater than the much better marketed energy sources like wind and solar. This is what makes forest health so vital.

Palle Madsen’s research also contributes to informing the public and policy makers about how forests and forestry are some of our strongest cards in the effort to shape a sustainable future.