Verena Griess

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

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Associate Professor

Research Classification

Resources Management
Plants and Forests
Landscape and Environmental Organization

Research Interests

sustainable forest management
forest management planning
decision support systems
forest economics
mixed species
near natural/ close to nature forestry
plantation forests

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Spatiotemporal dynamics of forest disturbances caused by selective logging in the Brazilian Amazon (2019)

Selective logging is one of the main causes of forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon. However, when compared to deforestation, logged forests retain much more biomass and carbon stocks, maintaining important ecosystem services. In several tropical countries selective logging has been promoted as an alternative to the conversion of forests into other land use types. In Brazil, legal logging activities are mainly conducted in privately owned forests, hereafter called forest management units (FMUs). Little is known about the implementation of authorized logging in these areas. This thesis had the objective of characterizing selective logging activities in FMUs located in a focused area within the Brazilian State of Amazonas. The performance of two satellites, Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2, for mapping selective logging were compared. A robust change detection approach was applied for imagery of both satellites. Based on these analyses, Sentinel-2 was chosen as input data set for a spatial pattern analysis. Landscape metrics werecomputed over multiple scales and then combined into a single map, with five classes of disturbances. Then, this map was used to produce a forest disturbance intensity score. Different weights, meant to account for the heterogeneity associated with harvest operations, were assigned for each disturbance class to score and rank FMUs. Both satellites showed the same performance in terms of accuracy. However, due to its larger spatial resolution, Landsat 8 overestimated the area of logging compared to Sentinel-2. Therefore, Sentinel-2 data was chosen for all further analyses. The five disturbance intensity classes showed a good association withreal disturbances. The ranking system, compared to a traditional disturbance indicator, showed very different results for FMUs with intermediate disturbance scores. The most disturbed and the least disturbed areas kept the same position wherever weighting system was assigned. This thesis presents important results towards a better understanding of the spatiotemporal patterns of logging related disturbances in tropical forests. The methodology developed here is simple but robust, it is transparent and easy to be reproduced. The mapping scheme, the spatial pattern analysis and the score system can be used by institutions concerned with the monitoring of tropical forests.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Scenario analysis using carbon budget modelling for alternative forest management strategies in Turkey : the case study of Arikaya (2018)

Increasing carbon stock in forests is fundamental for climate change mitigation. Forest carbon management can also play a critical role in keeping forests healthy, while addressing multiple wildlife and human needs. To fulfill this potential, forest management practices require an improved understanding of annual carbon stocks and carbon dynamics. However, this information is oftentimes not properly accounted for in forest management plans, particularly in the case of developing countries. This thesis focuses on a case study in Turkey to demonstrate the potential to enhance Turkish forest management plans by including carbon stock accounting. The Forest Planning Studios Atlas (FPS-Atlas) and the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Service (CBM-CFS3) software programs were used to assess three alternative forest management scenarios in the case study. Carbon stock estimates for each scenario were compared to a baseline based on the current management plan. The first alternative scenario assumed an accelerating harvest rate over time, driven mainly by population growth. The second alternative scenario assumed rehabilitation of non-productive areas, a practice that has been gaining attention in Turkey over the last two decades. The third alternative scenario assumed the rehabilitation practices are combined with a low harvest flow. A carbon price analysis was conducted comparing the baseline with the third alternative scenario. Results showed that accelerating harvest can negatively affect the carbon stocks in a period of one hundred years. Rehabilitation, on the other hand, showed a positive impact on carbon sequestration potential when compared to the baseline after a hundred years. The rehabilitation scenario with low harvest flow showed promising results for international carbon trading. Overall, the methods used in this research proved useful to improve current forest managements strategies in Turkey, particularly in relation to climate change mitigation.

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Creating criteria and indicators for use in forest management planning : a case study with four First Nations communities in British Columbia (2017)

In British Columbia (BC), Canada, there is a rapid shift in forest management systems as a result of historic and recent title cases involving Indigenous communities. Today, modern treaties mean more decision making power for the Indigenous communities that treaties involve. This research is built on that progression and was part of a collaboration with four Indigenous communities in BC to develop sustainable forest management plans for their traditional territories. Community members were interviewed to determine their forestry related goals and values. Alongside economic goals, these included habitat conservation for important game species, water quality, berry production, and the use of sustainable harvesting methods. To represent these findings, criteria, indicators and targets were developed for use with forest estate modeling software, such as Woodstock. A scenario that encompassed the current forest management practices and three alternative scenarios were created to support the goals and values of the community members. The three alternative scenarios that used the criteria, indicators, and targets developed from the goals and values of the community members did differ from the scenario of the status quo forest management practices.

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