The Federal Forest Research Center (BFW) has a new Department for Forest Biodiversity and Nature Conservation starting in 2021, and its head will be the respected scientist Dr. Katharina Lapin as of February 1, 2021.
“With the Department for Forest Biodiversity and Nature Conservation, BFW underlines its role as a contact for all questions related to forests. Dr. Katharina Lapin, as the new head of the department, is distinguished by her extensive expertise in national and international research work. I am convinced that she will also successfully shape this important topic area at BFW through her network with authorities, forest owners and those interested in the forest,” says Dr. Peter Mayer, Director of BFW.
Working at the interface between biodiversity and forest management is a challenge the new head of department is looking forward to. There are many synergies, such as with regard to climate change adaptation. But there are also conflicts: “I see it as our task to anticipate potential conflicts,” says Katharina Lapin. All three units of the department deal with the practical challenges of their subject area, but also with the fundamentals. The ecological genetics unit has long been working on the great biodiversity of trees and shrubs; in the new forest biodiversity department, measures for the preservation of biodiversity are being developed; and the natural forest reserves are important example areas for the out-of-use position.
Research, knowledge transfer and networking
34-year-old Katharina Lapin studied landscape planning and quite soon turned her research focus to biodiversity and invasive species. She also aims as a goal for her institute to provide excellent research services for applied and basic research. A major concern for her is also the communication of knowledge: “We are doing really big things and they need to be communicated,” says Lapin. Not for nothing did she win the #EUinmyRegion storytelling competition in 2020. The list of her scientific publications is long, and at the same time she manages to explain popular-science difficult content in a simple and understandable way, for example at workshops at forestry training centers or in the new online course “Biodiversity in the Forest,” which she conceived and designed (www.bfw-onlinekurs.at).
Katharina Lapin is well connected internationally: she contributes to the chapter of the IPBES report on invasive species (www.ipbes.net). The World Biodiversity Council IPBES is a body that provides scientific advice to governments and international organizations on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Lapin is a member of several panels, such as the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group (GTSG). Therefore, it is not surprising when Katharina Lapin says: “I would like to contribute to an even better networking of actors working in the field of biodiversity and forest management, so that we can use BFW know how in the best possible way for the forests of the future”.