Murdoch expert to lead international forest task force

September 23, 2015

Professor Richard Harper will lead the IUFRO task force A Murdoch University scientist will head up an international task force into the ways that human activities and broader ecological factors affect forests, soil and water.

Professor Richard Harper will lead the International Union of Forest Research Organisation’s (IUFRO) Task Force on Forests, Soil and Water Interactions, a group drawn from scientists from around the world with expertise in the science, policy, economics and management of forests.

“We know that physical and human landscapes affect management policies and practices, as do political and market forces,” Professor Harper said.

“Given that, our focus on forests, soil and water has to take the impacts of climate change, forest use, soil conservation and wildfire into consideration."

Professor Harper said that forests play an integral role in the globe’s supply of clean water, and also in stabilising and protecting soils from erosion.

“Much of the world’s freshwater is provided through forested catchments, which provide protection against siltation and contamination from pollutants.

“But climate change, increasing demands for agricultural and urban land and existing stressors such as wildfire are putting many forests under pressure.

“Forests also play a major role in national and international policies to tackle climate change through reducing deforestation or increasing reforestation. The impacts of this on soils and water are not always clear. ”

The IUFRO Task Force will provide the basis for coherent management responses for policy makers, decision makers and practitioners, building on an enhanced understanding of forest, soil and water interactions.

IUFRO is the only world-wide organisation devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees.

For further information about the Task Force, including its members, please visit:


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