Gert-Jan Nabuurs has been appointed Professor (by special appointment) of European Forest Resources with effect from 1 June 2014. The chair will function under Frits Mohren’s Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group. Gert-Jan will concentrate on European scenario studies, including those related to the bio-based economy.
More than a third of Europe’s land surface is covered by forests. Forests do not only play an important role in the quality of the living environment, but also in processes such as regulating carbon and water levels, and more obviously, in the production of wood. The focus of the research and education in the Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group is on system features such as diversity, primary production, ecosystem services and other functional aspects. “It is important to see the Dutch situation in a broader perspective,” says Frits Mohren. “This encompasses both the European and the global perspectives. Large-scale scenario models are essential in this respect, and the importance of spatial components and regional differentiation is growing. Gert-Jan Nabuurs is a researcher with an excellent reputation in this area.”
Using European scenario studies will help to expand and upgrade the research, placing it in a broader perspective and enabling the results to be used for multifunctional forest management. Upgrading and redefining research will increase the students’ awareness of the possibilities, limitations and relevance of forest management (national and international), and contribute to Dutch forest and nature management as a whole. Gert-Jan will explore ways of expanding and linking the latest developments in Europe, bearing in mind the growing importance of forests and forestry to the bio-based economy. His appointment will also strengthen the ties between research conducted at Alterra and research at the University. Frits Mohren: “I am convinced that this appointment will give rise to an important, valuable collaboration at European level, which will benefit both the Netherlands and Wageningen UR.”
Gert-Jan Nabuurs has the final word: "Demand for wood as a resource is set to grow under the biobased economy, despite the increasing pressure being put on forests by aspects such as climate change. This area of tension is the main focus of the special chair. My remit revolves around strategic analyses of the future development of forests in the face of changing demand and environmental conditions. Sustainable forest management in Europe is also vital to the Netherlands as a major importer of European wood."
Gert-Jan Nabuurs is also Lead Scientist European forest resources at Alterra. He has headed various European research projects, was Assistant Director of the European Forest Institute in Finland from 2009-2012, editor-in-chief at the IPCC and is now an active member of the UNECE Timber Committee. He has also advised the European Commission on forest policy matters.