FoRCE is a pantropical experiment, aiming to measure and understand the long-term dynamics of tropical forest recovery from major human disturbance, and interactions with climate, topography and experimental management. We are using a combination of permanent sampling plots, hemispherical photographs, experimental vine removal, seed germination, tree planting and remote sensing.
We are doing the research to understand (a) fundamental information about biomass and species community changes during forest succession, and (b) how tree planting and management of vines and other weeds affects these changes and promotes more rapid recovery from severe degradation by logging or cyclones.
We are driven by two fundamental questions: (A) How do forest structure, forest functioning and associated species communities change during forest succession, (B) How can tree planting and management of forests for vines and weeds promote rapid forest recovery following disturbance (including severe degradation from logging or cyclones).
Data & Infrastructure
We are measuring tree, liana, palm and strangler density, growth and structure in 0.04ha (sapling) and 0.4ha (large stem) sample plots with measured and marked stems, stratified across climate and disturbance gradients. We are upscaling these data to the landscape scale using satellite sensor data. We are establishing climate and soil monitoring stations in some plots and for others we have remotely sensed climate data.
Our existing 1,000+ plots are located in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, including 100+ permanent plots. More permanent plots are being placed in Australia, and later we intend to expand to southeast Asia and tropical America. We are carrying out restoration management in around one third of our permanent plots. Our Tanzanian sites are spread across a wide geographic region, but with reasonable access to logistical support, field assistants, accommodation, campsites and our field office.
Lead Institutions & Partners
The project lead partners are the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia), University of York (UK) and Newcastle University (UK). We are also collaborating with several other academic partners across the world including; University of Leeds (UK), Missouri Botanic Gardens (USA), Tanzania Tree Seed Agency, Tanzania Forest Service, Tanzania National Parks Authority and the Millennium Seed Bank (UK). The work is mostly research council funded (Australian and UK Research Councils) but with additional funding and in-kind support from corporate and charitable sources (IUCN Sustain, African Wildlife Foundation, United Bank of Carbon, Flamingo Land Ltd. and the Kilombero Sugar Company). Our work is also registered with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute and the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology. Our lead NGO partner is Reforest Africa, who will be using our findings to implement new forest management and training.