FoRCE is a pantropical experiment, with permanent field plots in Tanzania and Australia. We aim to measure and understand long-term tropical forest dynamics and interactions with climate, human disturbance and experimental management. We are using a combination of permanent sampling plots, hemispherical photographs, experimental vine removal 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 0.4ha permanent sample plots with measured and marked sapling and mature stems, stratified across climate and disturbance gradients. We have upscaled 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 61 plots are located in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, with a further 30 in development and with imminent expansion to Australia. We also intend to carry out restoration management in one third of our plots within the next 2-4 years and to expand the network into southeast Asia and tropical America. 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 York (UK), University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia) 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.