Project: Diversity of FORESTs affecting human health and well-being

Acronym Dr. FOREST (Reference Number: 397)
Duration 01/02/2020 - 31/01/2023
Project Topic Dr. FOREST - Diversity of FORESTs affecting human health Forest ecosystems are an important reservoir for biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes within Central Europe, and deliver many ecosystem services. They are also a popular location for recreational activities, especially near urban areas. However, forests can also harbour threats and diseases, e.g. ticks that transmit pathogens to humans. Thus, we need to quantify the impacts of biodiversity on multiple human health risks and benefits to combine biodiversity conservation with ecosystem management that supports various health co-benefits. Dr FOREST will test the following general hypotheses: 1) Forest biodiversity supports mental and physical health and well-being, by (i) restoring psychological capacities through a larger variety of visual and acoustic stimuli, and by (ii) building capacities due to more pleasant conditions for recreation and high diversity of non-wood forest products. 2) Forest biodiversity reduces harm and physical illness, by (i) reducing and diluting disease vectors, and by (ii) reducing air pollution and pollen load. The project makes use of existing research infrastructures for functional biodiversity studies and relies on a rigorous experimental design that allows quantification of tree diversity effects on human health. The empirical work will be done in controlled tree diversity experiments as well as in natural forests of differing diversity adopting a comparative design. The sites are located in contrasting climatic regions of Central Europe (France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Poland). In three Case Studies in urban forests the consequences of forest diversification schemes for health-related risks and benefits will be elaborated together with local stakeholders (Sonian Forest Brussels, Bois de Bordeaux, Auwald Leipzig). All Work Packages and Tasks are handled by teams composed each of both natural and medical scientists, ensuring cross-disciplinary collaborations and synergies. Interactions with stakeholders to refine research questions and to promote the human health impacts of biodiversity in forests, as well as formulation of management guidelines will ensure high relevance for health policy and forest administration. A final symposium will communicate the project’s findings to high-level stakeholders and will support evidence-based decision-making for forest biodiversity and human health co-benefits and risks.
Website visit project website
Network BiodivERsA3
Call 2018-2019 Joint Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg Coordinator Germany
2 BOS+ Vlaanderen vzw Partner Belgium
3 The Forest Research Institute Baden-Wuerttemberg Partner Germany
4 German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research Partner Germany
5 Ghent University Partner Belgium
6 KU Leuven Partner Belgium
7 University of Warsaw Partner Poland
8 Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement, Université de Bordeaux Partner France
9 Universität für Bodenkultur Partner Austria
10 Medical University of Vienna Partner Austria
11 Universität Leipzig Observer Germany
12 Université catholique de Louvain Observer Belgium