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Irstea and the ONF strengthen their partnership for research into forests and natural spaces

© De Danieli Sébastien / Irstea

01/31/2018

Christian Dubreuil, Director-General of the ONF and Marc Michel, President of Irstea, signed a new framework agreement on January 31, 2018 at the ONF headquarters in Paris. The agreement is for a 6-year period (2016-2022) and aims to produce knowledge, methods and tools that deal with the challenges of producing wood, adapting forests to climate change, conserving biodiversity and managing natural hazards.  

The previous 5-year framework agreement signed in September 2011 aimed to reinforce the development and structure of research actions and common partnerships. It resulted in around 30 scientific partnerships that led to various scientific publications and general technical articles.

A long term partnership: mixed oak-pine lowland forests

The mix of sessile oak and pine is part of the traditional landscape of the lowland forests western central France. Since 2000, the mix has raised significant issues for managers, such as how to manage and renew these forest stands, and what are the advantages of the mix on production. Additional answers are needed for issues relating to adapting to climate change, specifically in relation to soil that is water logged in winter and very dry in the summer, and the interest in maintaining this mix within a context of increasing water constraints.

Following various modeling projects, in 2012 Irstea decided to install an original and ambitious experimental device for these mixes called OPTMix (Oak Pine Tree Mixture) that the ONF rolled out in the state forests of Orléans. This work will support managers in their forestry decision-making, allowing them to better adapt these stands.

A flagship project: Mapping accessibility of the forest resource in sloping areas

Managing heterogeneous mountain forests made up of soft-wood (Spruce, Fir) and deciduous (Beech) trees of varying ages involves regular cutting in order to harvest the ripe trees and ensure continuous renewal. Steep slopes limit logging operations, making it difficult for hauling machines, and even woodcutters, to gain access to some sectors. The challenge was to gain a precise understanding of the topography and distribution of the forest resource and its accessibility to various hauling machines, in order to optimize operations. Using LiDAR remote sensing technology and modeling, Irstea and the ONF worked together to offer tools capable of automatically mapping accessible areas depending on the forestry equipment to be used (forest tractor, overhead cables) with the aim of easing the job of forest managers.

A new partnership across 7 areas

  • Forestry: developing and renewing mixed or irregular forests, including mountain forests, within a climate change context.
  • Natural hazards: understanding and modeling phenomena causing natural hazards; preventing natural hazards in mountain areas, forest fires, coastal hazards; managing dams and reservoirs and protective structures
  • Forest genetic resources: conservation, evaluation and exploitation
  • Measuring and incorporating biodiversity as part of the sustainable management of forests and the issue of balance between forestry and hunting [1][1]
  • Aerial and satellite imaging (remote sensing): defining and mapping forest resources; accessibility, evaluating natural risks and hazards, biodiversity and forestry structures
  • Economic and social approaches: forest production, non-commercial aspects, environmental evaluation and representation studies, uses, products and forest management methods, peri-urban and tourist forest management.
  • GEMAPI with the integration of environmental engineering solutions to manage aquatic environments and prevent flooding

The work undertaken as part of this partnership will include research projects, work groups, joint training provision, provision of land managed by the ONF, access to data for research activities and joint management of experimental devices…

For more information

[1] The balance between hunting and forestry is about ensuring the compatibility of the sustainable presence of large wildlife and the durability and economic profitability of farming and forestry activities.