Forest Scholars Worldwide Team Up For Biodiversity Research

Figure 1 Global effect of tree species diversity on forest productivity. Analysis of data from 777,126 global forest biodiversity (GFB) permanent sample plots (blue dots, left panel) reveals a consistent positive and concave-down biodiversity–productivity relationship (BPR) across forests worldwide (right panel). The photos, taken from the GFB sites around the world, represent forest biodiversity, forest ecosystem services, and forest inventory crews at work. The above findings are published in a research article entitled Positive Biodiversity–Productivity Relationship Predominant in Global Forests (Science, DOI 10.1126/science.aaf8957, sciencemag.org)

A team of scholars from 90 institutions around the world, coordinated by Jingjing Liang (lead author), Peter B. Reich, and Thomas W. Crowther consolidated field-based forest inventory data from 777,126 permanent plots across the world, and discovered a globally consistent positive effect of tree species diversity on forest productivity.  This relationship revealed that continued biodiversity loss would result in an accelerating decline in forest productivity worldwide.


The team has estimated that the economic value of biodiversity in maintaining commercial forest productivity alone to be USD$166–490 billion per year, which more than doubles the total estimated cost that would be necessary if we were to effectively conserve all terrestrial ecosystems at a global scale. This finding highlights the need for a worldwide re-assessment of biodiversity values, forest management strategies, and conservation priorities. 


The research, published on October 14th, 2016 in the journal Science, marks the first major accomplishment of the team, formally known as the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative (GFBI). Established in 2016, GFBI is an international, interdisciplinary, and multi-stakeholder research collaborative that aims at better understanding broad-scale patterns and processes associated with the planet's four billion hectares of forested ecosystems. For details, visit http://www.GFBinitiative.org/

Viedeos and photos: