New tools for ecological site classification and tree species selection — Application to forest management decision-making in the context of climatic changes

PI : Paulina Pinto (UMR 1092 Joint Reseach Unit for Forest and Wood Resource Studies  – LERFOB)

Co-applicants :

  • Myriam Legay, Noemie Pousse (RDI-ONF)
  • Quentin Ponette (Earth and Life Institute, Forest Sciences, Université de Louvain (Belgique)
  • Jean-Claude Gégout, Eric Lacombe, Christian Piedallu (LERFOB, UMR INRA-AgroParisTech)

Collaboration : 

  • Gersande Gérard (ONF-Agence de Verdun)
  • Milène Genitls (ONF-Agence Versailles)


Context — Tree species selection as a tool to support forest management decision-making relies on successfully matching environmental and ecological characteristics for specific species. Up to now, forest managers in France have relied on traditional decision-making support tools (i.e. forest station catalogues and published guidelines for species selection) which do not take into account climatic changes. Methodologies in recent years have been developed, however, for assessing how climatic changes affect soil conditions using spatial modeling and optimized bio-indication of forest flora. These quantitative indicators have successfully been tested at the national level and have led to established models using environmental predictors for tree growth and distribution for specific species.

Objectives — To apply these new decision-making tools at the forest stand level adapted to integrate potential impacts of climate change to support species for improved forest planning.

Approach — We propose to apply these new tools, using bio-indicators for environmental assessments, to develop management plans for a network of plots in two forested areas managed by the French National Forests Office (ONF). Species selection will be based on distribution models applied to the plot level which integrate climatic and edaphic (soil) factors (from field estimations or from bio-indicators for landscape flora) to calculate current and future tree species distribution.

Expected results and impacts — Criteria for species selection will be developed collaboratively with forest managers within the context of a forest management plan.  A training workshop presenting the new approach, newly developed tools and their potential application in the field will lead to an important exchange between forest researchers, stakeholders and forest managers, and ultimately to establishing an implementation program for these new methodologies.