Linking climate and social changes for identifying adaption pathways in Alpine forests


Mountain forests provide a wide range of Ecosystem Services (ES), such as supplying renewable resources, regulating carbon sequestration, hazard protection and spaces for recreation and leisure activities. These forests have been shaped by human influence over centuries and managed with hindsight to well-defined societal expectations. The uncertainty of the extent of climate change, the responses of mountain forests to more frequent and severe drought events and ongoing socio-economic change require a diversity of responses to face disturbances, learn and reorganise and create new trajectories.

Research questions and hypotheses

This PhD-thesis aims to develop pathways towards climate-resilient mountain forest ecosystems and to identify principles for the implementation of such pathways. We hypothesise that (1) under climate change, knowledge to support management of altered ecosystems becomes contestable as do societal preferences for future ecosystem states and services and that (2) despite controversial visions of desirable futures among stakeholders pathways can be built to represent sequences of future actions to reach preferred future states and avoid unwanted ones despite complexities due to path dependency and uncertainties.

Approach and methods

Based on (1) expert interviews and public surveys to evaluate current management activities, ES supply, flow and societal demands, (2) modelling of forest ES to evaluate the development of ES provision under climate change (with respect to results from Dissertation Projects 1-1, 1-3, 1-5, 1-6) and (3) stakeholder workshops about visions and future perspectives of mountain forest ES, we will develop adaptation pathways towards climate resilient forest ES delivery.

Time frame



PhD student

Laura Barraclough


Ulrike Tappeiner, Michael Bahn, Walter Oberhuber, Stefan Mayr, Georg Wohlfahrt


Rupert Seidl, Technical University Munich


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