How tree diversity improves forest productivity

By Yuanyuan Huang

Experimental studies in grasslands have shown that the loss of species has negative consequences for ecosystem functioning. Is the same true for forests? Huang et al. (2018) report the first results from a large biodiversity experiment in a subtropical forest in China. The study combines many replicates, realistic tree densities, and large plot sizes with a wide range of species richness levels. After 8 years of the experiment, the findings suggest strong positive effects of tree diversity on forest productivity and carbon accumulation. Thus, changing from monocultures to more mixed forests could benefit both restoration of biodiversity and mitigation of climate change.

Yuanyuan Huang is now an alumni of the PSC Science and Policy program and from University of Zurich. She received a fellowship from the  European Union’s Seventh FrameworkProgramme, IDP BRIDGES, PITN-GA-2013-608422 to carry out her doctoral thesis. In a recent  Nature paper she and her colleagues showed their scientific results on how tree diversity improves forest productivity.


Huang, Yuanyuan et al (2018).
Impacts of species richness on productivity in a large-scale subtropical forest experiment
Science  05 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6410, pp. 80-83
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat6405

Alumni PSC Science & Policy

Rewriting Our Food Supply

Devang Mehta summarized  in his short opinion report some of the current discussion how genome editing could revolutionize agriculture. Starting out with the technology at hand and outlining the importance of natural variation and creating diversity, Devang Mehta shows what a new agriculture using genome editing could look like and puts things in a global perspective while referring to the pressing legal questions regarding patenting, ownership and funding that are addressed in the current public, political and expert debate. The opinion report is addressed to the lay public.

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Maintaining biodiversity and managing oil palm expansion

What can policy papers and scenarios achieve?

By John Garcia-Ulloa

Oil palm extension remains an important environmental topic given the large negative impacts it can have on tropical biodiversity.
John Garcia-Ulloa had developed models and scenarios to understand biodiversity change in oil-palm landscapes under REDD+ initiatives during his science-policy fellowship from PSC and Mercator Foundation Switzerland.
In 2014 a close collaboration between ETH Zurich and IUCN was established to convene stakeholders from the oil palm sector and develop a strategy for IUCN to address the impacts of oil palm expansion on biodiversity. The main activity within the fellow’s internship at the policy Partner was to convene a group of experts to develop guidelines for the protection of biodiversity on oil-palm landscapes for IUCN.

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