I am interested in understanding how to better manage our forests in a future characterized by global changes. My work aims at studying the dynamics of forest ecosystems to anticipate the potential impacts of climate, disturbance and socio-economic changes. I am specialized in the application of simulation models of forest dynamics to explore interactions of trees with their changing environment and forest management strategies to enhance long-term resistance and resilience at multiple scales - from stand to landscape. I am also interested about dendrology, silviculture, dendroecological research, forest inventory and forest biodiversity. And I love mountains, geography, travelling, biking, cross-country skiing and home brewing.
See the REINFORCE project webpage to know more about my current research.
Ph.D. in Forest Ecology, 2015
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
MSc in Forestry and Environmental Science, 2010
University of Padua, Italy
Protection forests play a key role in protecting settlements, people, and infrastructures from gravitational hazards such as rockfalls and avalanches in mountain areas. Rapid climate change is challenging the role of protection forests by altering their dynamics, structure, and composition. Information on local- and regional-scale impacts of climate change on protection forests is critical for planning adaptations in forest management. We used a model of forest dynamics (ForClim) to assess the succession of mountain forests in the Eastern Alps and their protective effects under future climate change scenarios. We investigated eleven representative forest sites along an elevational gradient across multiple locations within an administrative region, covering wide differences in tree species structure, composition, altitude, and exposition. We evaluated protective performance against rockfall and avalanches using numerical indices (i.e., linker functions) quantifying the degree of protection from metrics of simulated forest structure and composition. Our findings reveal that climate warming has a contrasting impact on protective effects in mountain forests of the Eastern Alps. Climate change is likely to not affect negatively all protection forest stands but its impact depends on site and stand conditions. Impacts were highly contingent to the magnitude of climate warming, with increasing criticality under the most severe climate projections. Forests in lower-montane elevations and those located in dry continental valleys showed drastic changes in forest structure and composition due to drought-induced mortality while subalpine forests mostly profited from rising temperatures and a longer vegetation period. Overall, avalanche protection will likely be negatively affected by climate change, while the ability of forests to maintain rockfall protection depends on the severity of expected climate change and their vulnerability due to elevation and topography, with most subalpine forests less prone to loosing protective effects. Proactive measures in management should be taken in the near future to avoid losses of protective effects in the case of severe climate change in the Alps. Given the heterogeneous impact of climate warming, such adaptations can be aided by model-based projections and high local resolution studies to identify forest stand types that might require management priority for maintaining protective effects in the future.
Along with forest managers, builders are key change agents of forest ecosystems’ structure and composition through the specification and use of wood products. New forest management approaches are being advocated to increase the resilience and adaptability of forests to climate change and other natural disturbances. Such approaches call for a diversification of our forests based on species’ functional traits that will dramatically change the harvested species composition, volume, and output of our forested landscapes. This calls for the wood-building industry to adapt its ways of operating. Accordingly, we expand the evaluation of the ecological resilience of forest ecosystems based on functional diversification to include a trait-based approach to building with wood. This trait-based plant-building framework can illustrate how forecasted forest changes in the coming decades may impact and guide decisions about wood-building practices, policies, and specifications. We apply this approach using a fragmented rural landscape in temperate southeastern Canada. We link seven functional groups based on the ecological traits of tree species in the region to a similar functional grouping of building traits to characterize the push and pull of managing forests and wood buildings together. We relied on a process-based forest landscape model to simulate long-term forest dynamics and timber harvesting to evaluate how various novel management approaches will interact with the changing global environment to affect the forest-building relationships. Our results suggest that adopting a whole system, plant-building approach to forests and wood buildings, is key to enhancing forest ecological and timber construction industry resilience.
See my CV for contributions prior 2016