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.


Work packages and research teams

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).



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

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

Completed MSc projects


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- March 2027


Per Gundersen coordinator
Inger Kappel Schmidt co-coordinator