куќарка новости Master’s thesis or traineeship possibilities at the European Forest Institute
Master’s thesis or traineeship possibilities at the European Forest Institute Print E-mail
Written by Rantasa   
четврток, 06 декември 2012 10:55

The European Forest Institute (EFI) is an international organisation established by European States. It is the leading institution conducting and advocating forest research and facilitating forest research networking at the pan-European level.

The purpose of the Institute is to undertake research on the pan-European level on forest policy, including its environmental aspects, on the ecology, multiple use, resources and health of European forests and on the supply of and demand for timber and other forest products and services in order to promote the conservation and sustainable management of forests in Europe. Each year EFI employs some fifty researchers, trainees, and scholars who represent around 15 nationalities.

EFI has its headquarters in Joensuu (Finland) and carries out its research in three research programmes and five Regional Offices: EFIMED (Barcelona, Spain), EFICENT-OEF (Freiburg, Germany and Nancy, France), EFIATLANTIC (Bordeaux, France), EFICEEC- EFISEE (Vienna, Austria, and Varazdin, Croatia) and EFINORD (Copenhagen, Denmark).

EFI is currently involved in several national and EU projects, which offer various possibilities for master’s or bachelor theses and traineeships.

Interested student can contact:

Dr. Marcus Lindner
Head of Programme
Sustainability and Climate Change
European Forest Institute (EFI)
Torikatu 34
FIN - 80100 Joensuu, Finland
Phone: +358 10 773 4340
Email: marcus.lindner(at)efi.int


 

The carbon neutrality of using forest biomass for energy

Forest biomass is an important source of bioenergy and its importance is growing even more in the near future. It is often argued that using biomass in energy production is carbon neutral, because the carbon dioxide that is emitted during the combustion is absorbed again by the biomass growth. Recent studies have shown that the time it takes for biomass to regrow is a crucial factor for determining whether using forest biomass for bioenergy is carbon neutral. However, growth of trees differs between tree species and between different parts of Europe and the time that is needed to reach carbon sequestration parity varies accordingly. The aim of this study would be to identify whether certain tree species or regions are most optimal for producing biomass for bioenergy in Europe.
An interested student could work on this topic in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu. The student would apply the EFISCEN forest resource model as part of the analysis.

Carbon in harvested wood products

When forests are growing, carbon is stored in forest biomass. Upon harvest, the carbon is removed from the forest, but the carbon is still stored for a while in products that are produced from it. Using wood for building materials or for energy may substitute emissions from using fossil fuels. Although the amount of wood stored in products is small, it plays nevertheless an important role in storing carbon. The recent UNFCCC conference in Durban decided on accounting rules for harvested wood products. The aim of the study would be to develop a procedure in the ToSIA tool for sustainability impact assessments to implement the newly agreed accounting rules based on decay functions and to compare different forest management scenarios in their effect on carbon stored in the forest and in wood products. As an additional aspect, the fossil CO2 substitution potential through increased use of forest biomass in wood products and bio-energy can be estimated based on substitution factors developed in other studies.
An interested student could work on this topic in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu.

Impacts of alternative forest resource use scenarios on the recreational value of forests

The bioE-bioD project conducts a sustainability impact assessment of forest resource use scenarios related to the Finnish Long-term Climate and Energy Strategy and the EU target of halting biodiversity loss by 2020 and aims to identify the most sustainable resource use alternatives. The aim of the thesis is to assess the impacts of more intensive biomass removals and increased nature conservation efforts on the recreational value of the forests. The relative recreational value of forests, including aesthetic impressions, can differ depending on management intensity as well as structure, age class, and species composition of the forests. Based on such forest variables, Edwards et al. (2011; Ecol indicators 11, 81-89) developed an approach to estimate the suitability of forests for recreational use. This method will be adopted and extended using information on e.g. accessibility to analyse the alternative resource use scenarios in bioE-bioD to evaluate their effects on the recreational value of the forests. The thesis can be carried out as case study for East Finland using the ToSIA Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment. According to the student’s wishes and interests, the topic can be extended by evaluating the recreation value of forests on national to European scale, using projections of alternative management scenarios of the EFISCEN forest resource scenario model.
An interested student could work on this topic in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu.

Development and implementation of a methodology for an automatic calculation of conversion factors

An added value chain in the forest based sector describes the whole production process, from the planting of a tree till the energy recovery of the wood product at the end of its life cycle. Along the values chain many different units are used to describe the product, e.g. in the forest management and harvesting the measurement unit is typically ha or m3 over bark, where as in manufacturing processes or use stage of the product the measurement unit could be tonnes (paper) or even KWh (energy). If you want to model the material flow of such a production chain you need to convert the material flow in the different stages of the chain according to the measurement units of the processes. This is done by product specific conversion factors.
The conversion factors needed in the forest base sector depend on only two variables: the tree species/product type (e.g. paper) and the moisture content. Based on this information all important conversion factors can be call calculated. A model will be developed, which calculates the conversion factors after the input parameter selected by the user.
Selected (sub-)indicators or indicators which are related with each other can sometimes also be automatically calculated to avoid possible error-sources.

Task/Research questions:
 Developing of methodology for automatic conversion factor and indicator calculation
 Implementation of the methodology (tool)
 How do the conversions factors differ over Europe?
 Possibility to visualize the results for different tree species in a European wide map

An interested student could work on this topic in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu. The student would apply the ToSIA tool for sustainability impact assessments.

Assessing bio-energy chains in terms of impacts on sustainability: innovative precision forestry and logistics systems in Europe – several topics possible

The production and consumption of bioenergy products in Europe increased dramatically over the last decade. Access to natural resources and supply chains for wood-based biomass have become increasingly complex and can be costly, while the demand for biomass is continuously increasing due to market and policy demands. With this more remote and difficult to access terrains are conquered and more efficient production systems are developed and researched at the forefront of improved technology.
The harvest, transport and production of different bioenergy products (chips, pellets, stumps, firewood) has crucial environmental, economic and social effects. In particular the production costs and revenue, investments, energy use (and generation), and CO2 emissions are under public scrutiny, just like impacts on biodiversity, recreational use, technical feasibility, as well as environmental sustainability (erosion, loss of nutrients, hazardous waste, water and air pollution, soil condition, etc). Innovative machine systems are expected and demanded to reduce negative impacts, so any new developments need to be assessed on their impacts on sustainability prior to market introduction.
Available countries/regions are: Scandinavia (Finland, Sweden), Central Europe (Germany, Italy), Steep or fragile terrain (Germany, Italy, Finland)
Available technologies: harvesting and hauling technologies or logistics (transport and terminal handling)
Task/research question:
 What are the impacts on different dimensions of sustainability in current typical bioenergy supply chains in your chosen region?
 Compare how impacts change for selected, innovative machine operation procedures.

Available technologies for assessment:

  • Demo chain in Finland, Sweden - Demonstrations of novel extractors
    Target: Improve competitiveness
    Indicator: Stump lifting capaticy improves by 10-30%
  • Demo chain in Finland, Sweden - Demonstrations of two-stage comminution of stumps
    Target: Improve competitiveness and quality of feedstock
    Indicator: Storability and ash content of biomass improves 20%
  • Demo chain in Sweden - Demonstrations of novel harvester head for geometric thinning
    Target: Improve competitiveness and economy
    Indicator: Cost savings compared with selective cut 20-30%
  • Demo chain in Finland - Hybrid technology chipper demonstrations
    Target: Reduction of fuel consumption, reduction in CO2 emissions
    Indicator: Fuel consumption reduced by 20%
  • Demo chain in Finland, Sweden - Demonstrations of de-coupled and coupled transport solutions
    Target: Support for transport means optimization
    Indicator: Decision tree for the selection of transport method
  • Demo chain in Finland, Sweden - Demonstrations of extra large trucks
    Target: Reduction of fuel consumption and transport cost
    Indicator: Fuel consumption reduced by 20% and transport cost by 10%
  • Demo chain in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Italy - Optimized chip truck demonstrations
    Target: Reduction of fuel consumption, reduction in CO2 emissions
    Indicator: Fuel consumption reduced by 20%
  • Demo chain in Finland, Sweden - Demonstrations of intermodal transportation and terminal operations
    Target: Improve efficiency, improve terminal solutions
    Indicator: Potential of automation evaluated
  • Demo chain in Italy - Biomass yarding technology demonstrations in steep and sensitive terrain
    Target: Avoid soil disturbance and biomass contamination with dirt and stones,
    Indicator: Ash content reduced by 30-50%
  • Demo chain in Italy, Germany, Finland - Sensor equipped chipper demonstrations
    Target: Improve terminal solutions
    Indicator :Quality of chips can be measured on-line
  • Demo chain in Germany, Finland, Sweden - Demonstrations of precision supply of wood
    Target: Improve competitiveness and economy of conversion
    Indicator: Conversion efficiency improves at peak loads

One or two interested student(s) could work on this topic in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu. The student would apply the ToSIA tool for Sustainability Impact Assessments.

Studying impacts of intensive forest biomass extraction on soil carbon pools, biodiversity, forest productivity and nutrient balances

The study will first carry out a literature review based on contemporary empirical and modelling studies about the impacts of intensive forest biomass extraction with varying harvest intensity are reviewed for recovery of soil carbon pools, biodiversity as well as influences on nutrient balances, forest growth productivity at stand, landscape and European level. The literature result will be complemented with additional analysis of experimental data and compared to sustainability impact assessment (SIA) results from innovative biomass production value chains in Europe to safeguard that these technologies are positive for sustainable development in economic, environmental and social aspects. The student will get access to recent findings from the ongoing “INFRES” project, as well as to findings of the “Bioenergy from forests” research programme (Metla), “BioSus “(Environmental research institute, Finland) and “ Effective forest energy systems” (Skogforsk & SLU).
The results will be discussed in context of European and regional policy targets, showing the potential sustainability impacts of different technology mixes and harvest intensities. 
An interested student could work on this topic in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu.

VOLANTE Project – Visions of Land Use Transitions in Europe

The project aims to inform land use and natural resource management policies and decision-making in Europe based on advanced knowledge in land system science. It applies process understanding and modelling to assess pathways to desired land use visions that were identified in a series of stakeholder workshops.
One of the tasks of EFI in the project is to carry out a pathway analysis to study which management and policy options (simulated with models) are reaching desired future land use situations. Several models will deliver simulation results for a number of scenario runs with different socio-economic developments and alternative policy options. The model outputs will partly come as gridded maps with a spatial resolution of 1 km, whereas other models will deliver results at the level of administrative regions (regional or national scale). The visions about future land use, on the other hand, distinguish only few European regions with some information about trends in urban and rural conditions.

There will be two thesis topics available to support the pathway analysis in VOLANTE:

  1. Development of a GIS analysis approach for the pathway analysis.
    GIS database procedures will be needed to process and classify the model outputs: which scenarios results are creating a pathway to the desired land use vision? The interpretation of model results will be undertaken at different spatial scales: First, the pixel level results (if available) will be compared with the baseline situation to determine if the results have changed. In case of detectable changes the direction of the change will be classified (in line or in contrast to the change from the baseline condition to the desired future land use situation). Second, the pixel level results will be combined to higher aggregation levels, ranging from municipal level up to the country level. The aggregated results have to be classified (e.g. majority of pixels/regions with or without detectable change, majority of pixels/regions is changing in the direction or against the direction of the vision; opposing trends in part of the pixels, etc.). Techniques need to be selected (e.g. QCA analyses techniques (http://www.u.arizona.edu/~cragin/fsQCA/index.shtml) or decision trees) to classify the scenario results into different response patterns. This procedure is carried out at the different aggregation levels and then the results are compared to analyse if there are trends visible at higher spatial resolution that are lost in the aggregated results.
    An alternative GIS method could be to develop a spatial pattern analysis methodology to compare spatial pattern similarity or dissimilarity instead of classifying the pixel level results. The main focus of this thesis is on the method development for the pathway analysis using only some test data to illustrate how the method can be applied.
  2. Interpretation of pathways in terms of trends in service provisioning. The methodology developed in the previous topic can be applied to analyse individual model parameters (e.g. ecosystem service indicator results) in selected scenarios and policy options. This topic will focus more on the analysis of the indicators results using the pathway analysis. How much do the results differ between scenarios? Are the responses of different indicators similar? Are there patterns of declines in certain indicators linked with increases in other indicator values? This
    analysis will be performed for EFISCEN outputs.

Interested students will work on these topics in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu.

The Outlook for Paper Markets in Europe

Various institutes provide periodically long-term scenarios and outlook for forest products consumption (e.g. FAO, EFSOS). Typically, the studies use demand models, in which economic growth, the price of the product, and population growth is used as determinants of the consumption. In the past decade, it has become evident that for communication papers (printing and writing paper and newsprint) in many OECD-countries, such as in Western Europe, this traditional model can not tract the recent patterns in data, and have produced outlook projections for demand that have turned out to be much too optimistic. The major reason has been the fact, that these models have not been able to take into account the structural change in the markets caused by electronic media.
The objective of the study would be to provide long-term outlook projections for the consumption of communication papers in Europe. The purpose is to experiment with new models, that are capable to explain the recent behaviour, and are therefore also more useful for projection purposes.
An interested student would work on this topic in the Foresight and Information Programme at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu. The student would be guided by the Head of the Programme. The work involves estimation of econometrics/statistical models, and previous studies in these subjects would be an important advantage.

Outlook for Sawnwood Markets in Europe

The sawnwood markets in Europe are very much in transition. The consumption, production and trade patterns are continuously evolving for a number of reasons. For example, the building and construction activity, and the usage of wood for these purposes, are effected by economic activity, consumer preferences, building regulations, and also recently by climate change issues.
The objective of the study would be to assess the recent structural changes in sawnwood consumption, production, and trade flows in Europe. This would be accomplished by studying some of the recent long-term outlook studies for these sectors , and doing some statistical analysis with the data.
An interested student would work on this topic in the Foresight and Information Programme at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu. The student would be guided by the Head of the Programme. The work requires interest in econometrics/statistics.

The Outlook for Forest Biomass Utilization in European Heat and Power Plants

The EU renewable energy targets for 2020 is creating increasing interest to use forest biomass for energy purposes. In terms of the volume biomass used, one of the biggest sector expected to increase forest biomass utilization for producing energy, is the heat and power sector. Already with the existing technology, the heat and power plants have the possibilitiy to substitute coal for forest biomass to some extent. Furthermore, the technology existing already today allows the share of forest biomass to increased even more.
There are a number of studies that have provided long-term outlook for forest biomass utilization for heat and power purposes in Europe. The objective of the study would be to provide a synthesize of these studies. More precisely, it would assess the studies related both to the demand and supply of forest biomass. In addition, based on these studies and data, it would provide an assessment of the expected changes in biomass trade flows in Europe up to 2020.
An interested student would work on this topic in the Foresight and Information Programme at the EFI headquarters in Joensuu. The student would be guided by the Head of the Programme. The work requires interest in econometrics/statistics.

Visualizing forest sector consumption, production and trade

Environmental policies encourage efforts to provide a holistic view of the forest sector combining social, environmental and economic aspects. For the economic aspect, consumption and trade of forest products have a major impact on forests, but conditions vary widely across Europe and across species and product ranges. For example with regards to volumes of production and impact for rural development: industrial sawmills processing pine or spruce wood are orders of magnitude different to those of small scale oak sawmills. Another example is the consumption pattern of Integrated paper and biorefinery mills, which is completely different to household wood consumption. Based on available data, capturing and rendering the forest sector complexity in graphical form would be one mission of the student. The goal is to provide understandable graphs both to researchers of the biophysical sciences and to the general public.
The student will work with the manager of the EFICENT-Observatory for European Forests (OEF), other masters and PhD students and researchers at the Laboratory of Forest Economics. In close cooperation with the Laboratory of Forest Economics, the OEF programme on macroeconomics is evaluating economic models of the forest sector and preparing guidelines for outlook studies in Europe. We are looking for a master student in economics or forestry, who preferably is aware of computer science and with a curiosity for programming. The work will be carried out at the EFICENTOEF office in Nancy, France.

Building a forest ownership map of Europe

In an ongoing MSc thesis the feasibility of implementing a forest ownership map of Europe for both private and public forest is being implemented. Data on forest ownership is collected and the availability of geo-referenced in European countries investigated. Outcomes of the project will be a Technical Report and thematic maps. Based on the promising outputs of this thesis we would like to advance to the next step of testing and developing a methodology to produce a forest ownership map layer for Europe. It will build on the experiences/methods developed by EFI for elaborating the forest map of Europe (see:
http://www.efi.int/portal/virtual_library/information_services/mapping_services/). The methodology will then be applied and tested for a set of case study regions. Further potentialapplications of the layer in combination with other geo-referenced information will be tested (e.g. road networks and protected forest area layers)
An interested student could work on this topic at the EFI - Central European Regional Office and the Observatory for European Forests (EFICENT-OEF) Freiburg Office, Germany. The activity would be implemented in close cooperation with EFI’s ‘Information and Foresight’ unit as well as local expert institutions in Freiburg (e.g. Freiburg University).

Integrate Project (EFICENT-OEF)

Germany’s virtual forests

Sustainable forest management is considered a basic principle of forestry and timber production in Germany. At the same time the abandoning of productive forest area for biodiversity conservation is being increasingly discussed. However, the consumption of timber exceeds by far the equivalent productive forest area in the country. Consequently, the amount of imported timber and wood products also increased remarkably within the last decade. Therefore we may ask the question what the real productive forest area outside of Germany is to satisfy the demand of wood products and how much of this wood is produced based on sustainable forest management principles?
Interested students should have skill in GIS applications since one of the outputs will be a map of the realistic forest area equivalent to wood consumption of Germany based on various statistics. The activity will be implemented in close cooperation with the Institute of Silviculture at Freiburg University.

Development of a demonstration and training tool for assessing biodiversity relevant key structures in managed forests

The focus of this work will be on the development and implementation of a demonstration and training tool for forest managers who wish to integrate biodiversity relevant key structures into their regular forest management practices. A motivated student should have an understanding of ecological key criteria for biodiversity conservation and an interest in their practical application in forest management. The activity will be implemented at the EFI - Central European Regional Office and the Observatory for European Forests (EFICENT-OEF), Freiburg Office, in close cooperation with the Institute of Silviculture at Freiburg University.
Forest function mapping in European forests Societal demands towards forests to provide a multitude of ecosystem services have been increasing in the recent past. Very often there are demands towards forests to fulfill more than one service within a given forest area. Therefore various European countries produce information on forest functions/services and their designation to forest areas (e.g. protective functions, water protection, recreation etc.). This mapping may be done in the course of forest inventory cycles or through targeted initiatives (e.g. forest function mapping). Data and information on forest functions/services mapping may be of qualitative and quantitative nature.
The task for a motivated student will be to assess the availability of forest function/services mapping in a selected set of European countries (tbd with student), what are the aims of functions/services mapping, investigate how and which functions/services are mapped, what types of outputs are produced and how/where are they applied. Further a comparative analysis will be performed on emphasis towards certain functions/services and where are variations and similarities between the selected countries. This thesis would be carried out at the EFI - Central European Regional Office and the Observatory for European Forests (EFICENT-OEF), Freiburg Office.

Less demanding internship topics
Many of the topics above could also be addressed in 3-6 month traineeships without thesis writing.
Other topics for internships include e.g.

Review of national and international guidelines for biomass sustainability assessment.

Literature review of national and international guidelines for biomass sustainability assessment. Part of this review will be a comparison of LCA and SIA framework. Result is a definition of recommendations for setting up cases and indicators in the ToSIA framework so that they allow comparisons of SIA cases to LCA calculations from other projects and frameworks (like ISO14040:2006 (Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). (Topic to be carried out in the Sustainability and Climate Change unit, EFI HQ, Joensuu)

Forest risk management in South-west Europe

Inventory of organisation and bodies in charge of risk management (fire, insects, storm, ...) in Aquitaine, midi-pyrennees, euskadi, asturies, canabrie, galice and Portugal. This work includes design of the questionnaire, visits to project partners and inclusion of data in database. An output of the project can be a compared analysis of the risk management tools in regions and proposal for improvement. (Topic to be carried out at the EFIATLANTIC regional office in Bordeaux).

 
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