GEOFOREST (Geoenvironmental Processes in Forest Areas)

Presentation

This is an interdisciplinary group – made up of geographers, biologists, engineers, chemists – that works on the problems associated with forest areas. The aim of the group is to find operative and scientifically rigorous solutions to problems of a territorial or environmental nature with clear socio-economic implications.

Its activities are undertaken on a variety of spatiotemporal scales and with a variety of working methods. It brings together remote sensing (satellite, UAV-based, proximal), regional modelling, and the analysis of changes in GIS environments. We work on specialized field radiometry techniques and with passive and active sensors.  The empirical basis in experimental field work is fundamental.

GEOFOREST is a reference group in the field of edaphology and prescribed burns.

The main spheres of application are the forest environment, in relation with woodland (fires, inventory, dynamics), scrub and grassland (use of prescribed burns to recover land turned to scrub, grassland potential), agrarian and natural landscapes and protected areas.

Lines of investigation

  1. Forest fires:
    – Risk modelling: occurrence, socio-economic factors in ignition, models of combustion and propagation, ecological and social vulnerability.
    – Assessment and modelling of post-fire environmental dynamics: severity of the fire, regeneration, hydro-geomorphic and edaphic processes (erosion, soil perturbations).
  2. Prescribed burns:
    – Chemical properties of the soil and fallen leaves (composition of ash, organic matter, nutrient cycle, chemical quality).
    – Biological activity, physico-hydrological properties of the soil (SWR, aggregate stability, infiltration).
    – Experimental burn in the laboratory (humidity of soil, heat transfer).
  3. Cartography and modelling of environmental variables:
    – Vegetation parameters: forest inventory, biomass, biophysical variables.
    – Cartography and diagnosis of the landscape.
    – Species distribution patterns.
    – Uses of the territory: forest, livestock, protected areas, Georisks and Geo-Resources.

Projects undertaken

The present group is a result of the merger of two previous groups: Geoforest (http://geoforest.unizar.es/) and Fuegosol (https://fuegosol.weebly.com/).
The results of GEOFOREST have been published in international journals of the highest order and have been presented at prestigious international conferences. As a result, the group is regarded as a reference group on an international level.

Indicators for the period 2014-18: 83 papers published in indexed journals (JCR-WoS); 14 PhD theses defended in the group; participation in numerous research projects, 3 within the National Research, Development and Innovation Plan (Plan Nacional I+D+I) with CI of the group (CGL2013-43440-R, CGL2014-57013-R, CGL2016-76620-R); 5 OTRI contracts (55,529 €).

The results have been brought to the attention of a broad public and transferred to the realm of environmental management, representing a fruitful exercise in cooperation and dialogue between agents within the system.

2016 saw the foundation of RemOT Technologies, a spin-off of the group (https://remot-technologies.com/).

Infrastructure

Given the nature of the activities undertaken, which involve geostatistical modelling and the use of remote sensing technologies in conjunction with empirical and experimental work on the ground, the infrastructures available are numerous, whether in the field, the laboratory or in information technology.

  • Soil laboratory for the analysis of chemical, physical and biological parameters.
  • Computer laboratory: computers, GIS-specific software and remote sensing.
  • Field: spectro-radiometers, GPS, PDA, chlorophyll counter and LAI sensor, thermo-hygrometer, rain simulator, infiltrometer, soil analysis instruments, equipment for erosion areas.
  • Mobility: all-purpose van, elevating platform.
  • UAV/drone with RGB and multispectral camera.

All this is possible thanks to the ‘Plan Nacional I+D+I’ projects and the Government of Aragon, with ERDF co-financing for the creation of the laboratory ERTAlab (UNZA10-4E-488) and the acquisition of the UAV (research infrastructures DGA-UZ 2017).

Technological Offer/Services

Environmental and territorial diagnosis of physical and socio-economic variables by means of GIT (geographic information technologies) and field work for spatial planning, particularly soil analysis.

  • Analysis, modelling and cartography by means of GIS and remote sensing (optical satellite, thermal and radar sensors (SAR), UAV, LiDAR sensors and field radiometry) for the diagnosis of environmental and territorial problems: modelling of the fire hazard, models of post-fire regeneration and environmental dynamics.
  • Soil analysis: chemical, physical and biological properties.
  • Predictive cartographic models useful for territorial management.
  • Spatial planning, on different scales:
    – Analysis of environmental processes in areas affected by forest fires.
    – Forest inventory and biomass estimation.
    – Assessment of grassland potential and prescribed burns.
    – Risk analysis and cartography.
    – Specific landscape analysis and cartography.
  • Environmental education.
DGA GROUP REFERENCE: S51_17R
YEAR OF CREATION: 2001
NUMBER OF THESES SUPERVISED: 17
NUMBER OF PUBLICATIONS: 129 SCI

Miembros

    Chief Investigator:

    Juan de la Riva Fernández

    delariva@unizar.es