PRAFOR: Probabilistic drought Risk Analysis for FORested landscapes

The PRAFOR project started on 1 February 2020 and ran for two years. The aim of the project was to improve theory for risk analysis, apply it to forests in the UK, Spain and Finland, and improve an existing decision-support system.

Five organisations collaborated in PRAFOR: the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH; Marcel van Oijen, David Cameron); Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS; Mark Brewer); Forest Research UK (FR; Mike Perks, James Morison, Georgios Xenakis); the University of Alcalá in Madrid, Spain (Miguel Zavala); and Natural Resources Institute Finland in Helsinki (Luke; Mikko Peltoniemi).

The project

Risk is commonly defined as the expectation value for loss. Most risk theory is developed for discrete hazards such as accidents, disasters and other forms of sudden system failure. Less theory has been developed for systems where the hazard variable is always present and continuously varying, with matching continuous system response.

We can think of dynamic systems whose performance varies with ever-changing resource availability or other dynamic constraints, e.g. crop growth depending on water supply, or urban health as a function of air pollutant concentration. Risks from such continuous hazards (levels of water, pollutants) are not associated with sudden discrete events, but with extended periods of time during which the hazard variable exceeds a threshold.

Principal Investigator from project inception to Sept 2020 Marcel van Oijen introduces the project in this short video

The project team had shown in previous research how risk (R) can be decomposed as the product of hazard probability (p[H]) and ecosystem vulnerability (V), such that R = p[H] V. The PRAFOR Project built on this work using drought risk to coniferous forests as an example.

For more information on the project, see the accompanying page at the UKRI Gateway to Research