Forest Ecology, ETH Zürich


  • The aim of the Forest Ecology group is to further our understanding of the structure and function of forest ecosystems. We develop a process-based understanding of long-term forest dynamics with the ultimate goal of improving forest management in an era of multiple and sometimes conflicting forest uses, including production of timber, conservation of biodiversity, and the protection of people and infrastructure from natural hazards. We study structural and functional aspects of forest systems, focusing on tree population dynamics (i.e., regeneration, growth, and mortality) and the ecology of large-scale disturbances.  
  • We investigate ecological processes over the short as well as the long term and at spatial scales ranging from individual trees to landscapes. We address our research questions using a combination of modelling activities and field-based analyses to test hypotheses about processes in near-natural and managed forest ecosystems. 


  • Dynamic vegetation modelling at the stand, landscape and regional scale.
  • Applying and evaluating climate change scenarios to forest ecosystems.
  • Simulating adaptive forest management in response to climate change.
  • Evaluating the provisioning of ecosystem services. 
  • Simulating the occurrence and impact of large scale disturbances on forests, such as fire, wind, and bark beetles.
  • Using dendrochronology to better understand the processes which influence tree growth and mortality.
  • Incorporating forest inventory data, field- and lab-based studies into our modelling work to more accurately simulate the processes that influence forest ecosystems.  
  • Participation in inter- and trans-disciplinary research, considering ecological, social and economic factors to simulate how adaptive land use practices could maintain various ecosystem services under anthropogenic climate change.


  • The majority of our contributions are in WP3.
  • Provide a dynamic forest model that can be integrated into the European case study to simulate forest productivity using different management strategies under high-end climate scenarios .
  • Use a dynamic forest landscape model to simulate the cultural forested landscape in the Iberian case study.
  • Contribute to the Scottish case study to assess reforestation efforts.



Prof. Dr. Harald Bugmann

Full professor of Forest Ecology at ETH Zürich
Multiple research projects at national and international level
Involvement in many EU FP projects since FP5 as participant and WP leader

Research interests:
Forest succession
Ecological modelling
Decision support for forest management under global change

Dr. Rebecca Snell

Postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zürich
Dynamic vegetation modelling expertise

Research interests:
Understanding and simulating vegetative landscape level patterns
Human management impacts on landscapes
Effect of climate and land use change on the provisioning of ecosystem goods and services

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