We conducted a baseline ecosystem services assessment on the Hungarian sites of the LIFE4OAKForest project to reveal the current conditions of the ecosystem services found on the project areas.
Due to intensive human use, there are no natural oak forests left in Hungary and the biodiversity of these remaining oak forests are continuously declining. The aim of the LIFE4OAKForest project is to increase the structural and compositional biodiversity of Natura 2000 oak forests by conservation management actions and tools. The restoration of these forests could increase the population of native, endangered and flagship species.
We carried out our assessment before the conservation management actions in order to see the current conditions and to be able to comparably map the overall project impact on ecosystem services after the project’s completion. Through discussion with the project team, we chose to assess the biomass as a provisioning service, the carbon sequestration, pest control and habitat maintenance as regulating and maintenance services. We chose these services to be assessed since these were deemed to provide an adequate synthesis about the probable changes in ecosystem services induced by the project. With a quantitative analysis we revealed how the level of biomass as well as the carbon stock capacity of the project areas correlates respectively to the average biomass level and the carbon stock at national level. We also assessed whether there are disparities among project areas with different stand characteristics in providing biomass and carbon sequestration ecosystem services. We also aimed to demonstrate the influence of tree characteristics and stand structural composition on microhabitats and woodpeckers indicating forest naturalness. Using this baseline assessment, it will be possible to investigate at the end of the project whether the conservation management actions induced by the project will have a significant impact on the four chosen ecosystem services.
Read more about the project here: http://www.life4oakforests.eu/