MONTES (2008-2013) – Spanish woodlands and global change: threats and opportunities

The MONTES program (CONSOLIDER INGENIO 2010) brings together researchers from 9 research groups: two from public centers that conduct research in forestry and the environment (CREAF, CTFC), two from the CSIC (EBD, ICTJA), three from Spanish Universities (UB, UCLM, UGR), one from CIEMAT and one mixed university-CSIC group (IRN-URJC). More than 77 researchers participate in the program.

The aim of MONTES is to create a competitive platform at national and international level to examine relationship of Spanish woodlands with the components of global change, and to identify opportunities to modify these components through appropriate woodland management.

The general objective of this program is to improve our basic understanding of the interaction between woodlands and global change and to determine how woodland management can be effectively integrated into strategies to adjust to and mitigate the effects of global change. To achieve this objective it is essential to examine the ecosystem services offered by woodlands and their degree of interdependence with the various components of global change, as well as to identify management opportunities to modify these components.

MONTES is organized around three main themes that analyze the mutual interactions between the ecosystem services offered by woodlands, the threats posed by global change and the opportunity to modulate these interactions through management:

(1) analysis of the influence of global change on the structure and function of woodlands

(2) study of the role of woodlands on the mitigation of global change effects

(3) modification through management of the effects of global change on woodlands and vice versa

The program is structured around eight work packages (WPs):

WP 1. Interactions between woodlands and the atmosphere.

WP 2. Changes in carbon fixation in woodlands.

WP 3. Changes in species distribution caused by climate change.

WP 4. Water availability.

WP 5. Consequences of land use change and fragmentation for species conservation.

WP 6. Species vulnerability to fire and preventive management of large-scale fires.

WP7. Biological invasions and consequences to biodiversity.

WP 8 is transversal and will integrate the results obtained in the other work packages and generate an information transfer system that will synthesize the results obtained in the program as a whole.

The potential impact of the MONTES program is two-fold: first, the scientific relevance of the proposed research, which represents a significant step forward in the study of mutual effects between woodland ecological services and the threats posed by global change; and second, the transfer of knowledge that will provide operational solutions for the management of Spanish woodlands. A fundamental aspect of the program is that it stresses not only the responsibility of human society as a major driver of global change, but also recognizes that we have an opportunity to mitigate this change through informed, proper management decisions. Another important aspect of this proposal is the excellence of its research team, with strong international projection, and a high degree of cohesion and training capacity. The application and dissemination of the results is another fundamental component of this program. The transfer and diffusion of the results obtained will be guaranteed through scientific publications, presentations in scientific congresses, organization of state-of-the-art scientific seminars and workshops (with the participation of representatives of the administration), technical reports that will be sent to various administration agencies, preparation of a website, and publication of a book and interactive DVD synthesizing the main conclusions reached. The book and DVD will be distributed to stakeholders and administrators working in land management.

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