Silva Nova

Restoring soil biology and soil functions to gain multiple benefits in new forests.


The research focus on how to use afforestation as an instrument in combatting climate change by sequestering carbon in trees but also how to use the resulting forests as habitats for species that can help to strengthen biodiversity.

The project will investigate whether inoculating former arable land with soil from old forests will make establishing new forests on agricultural land faster and more efficient. The hypothesis is that microorganisms that benefit tree growth are not present in agricultural land and that transplantation can establish the right microbiome to support and accelerate forest restoration.

When we plant trees in a field, a forest eventually grows. However, soil processes, the microbiome and plant communities continue to resemble fallow land. Regenerating the soil to support forests may thus take centuries. Our project will explore the transition from field to forest and find methods to turbocharge this development to benefit biodiversity and the environment. In Denmark, we have a plan to double the forest area.


The project has three experimental work packages (WP1-3) that feed into a landscape oriented analysis and synthesis work package (WP4). Our goals in each work package are to:

  • evaluate temporal and spatial responses in biomass production, flora and fauna, soil microbiota and soil functions to afforestation of former cropland in the baseline situation without assisted dispersal (WP1);
  • quantify effects of inoculation methods regarding donor, amount and application mode of inoculum to different soil types and tree species using mesocosm approaches (WP2);
  • expand knowledge of inoculation methods from mesocosm to field-scale implementation and documentation (WP3);
  • synthesize previous WPs to develop concepts for assessment and planning of afforestation at the landscape scale and provide a decision tool for afforestation strategies including use of assisted dispersal (WP4).



Silva Nova is a cross-disciplinary project that aims to resolve barriers for successful restoration and develop landscape-scale afforestation strategies that optimize ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.

Our team encompasses a broad range of research areas and expertise such as:

Soil functions, C sequestration, N retention, greenhouse gasses, soil and plant’s chemical properties.
Contact: Per Gundersen and Lars Vesterdal

Relationships and feedbacks between organisms, plant diversity, entomology.
Contact: Inger Kappel Schmidt, Sebastian Kepfer Rojas and David B. Byriel

Ecology plat-soil interactions
Inoculation techniques, mesocosm experiments, soil transplantations, microbiome.
Contact: Martijn T. Bezemer and Sofia Fernandes Gomes

Molecular techniques and development
High-throughput eDNA sequencing, microbiome, bioinformatics, fungal diversity.
Contact: Leho Tedersoo and Sten Anslan

Landscape and ecosystem functioning
Remote sensing, forest structure (LiDAR), landscape analyses.
Contact: Sebastian Kepfer-Rojas


Peer-reviewed articles

Gundersen P, Bezemer ТM, Rojas SK, Tedersoo L, Vesterdal L, Schmidt IK (2023)
Silva Nova – Restoring soil biology and soil functions to gain multiple benefits in new forests. Research Ideas and Outcomes 9: e101455. 

Tedersoo, L. et al. (2022)
Towards understanding diversity, endemicity and global change vulnerability of soil fungi. bioRxiv

Klavina, D., Tedersoo, L., Agan, A. et al. (2022)
Soil fungal communities in young Norway spruce-dominant stands: footprints of former land use and selective thinning. Eur J Forest Res 141, 503–516

Tedersoo, L., Bahram, M., Zinger, L., Nilsson, R. H., Kennedy, P. G., Yang, T., Anslan, S., & Mikryukov, V. (2022)
Best practices in metabarcoding of fungi: From experimental design to results. Molecular Ecology, 31, 2769– 2795. 

Bahram, M., Espenberg, M., Pärn, J. et al. (2022)
Structure and function of the soil microbiome underlying N2O emissions from global wetlands. Nat Commun 13, 1430

Tedersoo L, Albertsen M, Anslan S, Callahan B. (2021)
Perspectives and Benefits of High-Throughput Long-Read Sequencing in Microbial Ecology. Appl Environ Microbiol. 87(17):e0062621.

Tedersoo, L., Mikryukov, V., Anslan, S. et al. (2021)
The Global Soil Mycobiome consortium dataset for boosting fungal diversity research. Fungal Diversity 111, 573–588.

Anslan S, Mikryukov V, Armolaitis K, Ankuda J, Lazdina D, Makovskis K, Vesterdal L, Schmidt IK, Tedersoo L. (2021)
Highly comparable metabarcoding results from MGI-Tech and Illumina sequencing platforms. PeerJ 9:e12254 


Ongoing MSc projects

Lasse Egebjerg Ravn
”Soil profile development with time after afforestation of arable land investigated by natural stabile isotope analysis”
Supervisor: Per Gundersen, Per Ambus

Vivien Kovacs
“Exploring the Influence of Former Land Use on Soil Characteristics and Biodiversity Indicators across Denmark”
Supervisor: Per Gundersen, David Bille Byriel

Completed MSc projects


Heyu Chen
Thesis title: “Effects of litter removal, tree species and stand age on GHG fluxes at Vestskoven”
Supervisors: Klaus S. Larsen, Karelle Rheault

Anna Karina Zimmermann
Thesis title: “Diversity of surface-active arthropods in young forests in Denmark, Comparing the effects of afforestation by planting of trees and natural colonization of former agricultural land”
Supervisors: David B. Byriel, Inger Kappel Schmidt, Chatchai Kosawang

Thea Jedig Steenberg
Thesis title: “Colonization of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in naturally colonized vs. planted forest on former agricultural land”
Supervisors: Inger Kappel Schmidt, David B. Byriel

Benedicte Lütken
Thesis title: “Development of carbon and nitrogen stocks in forest floors under oak and Norway spruce following afforestation - third resampling of chronosequences in Vestskoven”
Supervisor: Lars Vesterdal

Théo Bauza
Thesis title: “Establishing afforestation methods to promote biodiversity: Study of the effects of afforestation practices on spiders (Araneae) and harvestmen (Opiliones) diversity in Denmark’s young forests”
Supervisor: David B. Byriel


Marie L.D. d l C. Bergmann
Thesis title: “Carbon sequestration in natural forest regeneration versus direct planted forests
Supervisor: Prof. Per Gundersen (KU)

Sascha H. Hansen and Birgitte R. Diget
Thesis title: “The effect of afforestation on former agricultural land - nitrate levels under oak and beech stands
Supervisor: Prof. Per Gundersen (KU).

Sabrina Kogler
Thesis title: “Effects of tree species and stand age on GHG fluxes at Vestskoven
Supervisors (KU): Klaus S. Larsen and Jesper R. Christiansen
Co-supervisors: Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern (BOKU); Karelle Rheault (KU).


Bülow-Hansen J.L.
Thesis title: ”Using field and LIDAR data to investigate the structural development in Vestskoven
Supervisor: Sebastian Kepfer Rojas, associate professor (KU).

Ledin D.K.
Thesis title: “Structural analysis of biodiversity potential of young afforestation on fertile, post-agricultural soil
Supervisor: Prof. Inger Kappel Schmidt (KU).


Funded by

Silva Nova has received six year funding from Novo Nordisk Foundation

Project: Silva Nova
Period:  March 2021- December 2027


Per Gundersen PI

Inger Kappel Schmidt co-PI

Ludovica D’Imperio research coordinator