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Entretien avec... Guy Landmann, President of the RENECOFOR Scientific Pilot Committee.

You are the Assistant Director of ECOFOR, a public interest group on forest ecosystems, and, in 2015, were named President of the RENECOFOR Scientific Committee under the auspices of the ONF. What role do you see for the RENECOFOR network ?

Guy Landmann: With its 102 plots put in place 25 years ago and which representative of all the characteristic forested areas in France, the RENECOFOR network provides a global view of how our forests function by providing data not only on tree growth, but also on forest soils and litter, flora, atmospheric conditions...

The wide range of parameters included makes RENECOFOR data unique. Unlike other networks, RENECOFOR provides the perfect combination of a large number of plots and extremely precise measurements, and this allows us to obtain particularly enlightening results concerning forest ecosystem monitoring.

The RENECOFOR network is not just useful; it's indispensable.

What are the most significant results obtained to date?

© Nathalie Petrel / ONF

GL: To give you two examples, everyone thought that increasing global temperatures would bring about a decrease in soil carbon, whereas actually, the reverse has been found.

Concerning soil nutrients, research had previously focused on the hypothesis that calcium and magnesium levels would decrease, and no one had envisioned the considerable deterioration in phosphorus levels!

RENECOFOR plays a double role, in fact; the Network is both a moderator of certain pre-conceived ideas, and an early warning system capable of detecting unexpected trends.

What becomes of the data collected?

GL: The ecological data collected by the Network, and which are made available free of charge, are being used by a very large research community, including both French and European researchers, which extends far beyond the actors who are directly concerned with the Network.

This proves the value of the work we are doing, and opens many perspectives in research and development, even in domains beyond the scope of our immediate involvement.

In addition, a significant number of our observations - in particular those concerning chemical soil nutrients- directly contribute to certain studies, as well as to models and tools being tested by the ONF Research, Development and Innovation Department (RDI).

Does this mean the RENECOFOR observations influence the research work being carried out on forest management practices?

GL: The RENECOFOR Network was not originally conceived to be an action tool; it is above all a thermometer designed to measure the status of functioning forest ecosystems.

This being said, the silvicultural world certainly has a lot to learn by observing the impacts on the forest, particularly those related to climate change. This observational approachis, in fact, applicable to all the other networks involved in forest monitoring: the Forest Health Department, the National Forest Inventory...

Changes in our working methods will certainly occur; most notably, the transfer of knowledge among organisations will improve, as will cross-analyses of data from different monitoring tools, and even more resources will be invested in the climate issue. Since adapting to climate change has rightly become a priority, in my view, preserving tools such as RENECOFOR and developing links between observation and action are essential - and this includes orienting future experimentation undertaken to help our forests to adapt.