Lars Vesterdal

Lars Vesterdal


  • Forest and Landscape Ecology

    Rolighedsvej 23

    1958 Frederiksberg C

    Phone: +4535331672Mobile: +45061670865

CV - Lars Vesterdal

Personal data

Born March 9, 1969, Gentofte, Denmark. Married, 2 children.

Present occupation

Professor, Section of Forest, Nature and Biomass, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 23, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


1995: MSc (Forestry), the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg, Denmark.

1998: PhD (Forest Ecology), the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg, Denmark. PhD thesis “Forest floors as affected by tree species, thinning intensity, and soil properties” ( awarded a medal by The Danish Academy of Natural Sciences. During the PhD study period I spent a two month adjourn at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


2015-: Professor, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen.

2014-15: Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen.

2001-2013: Senior scientist, Dep. of Forest Ecology, Danish Forest and Landscape Research Institute (FSL). In 2004 the institution was merged into the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (KVL) and in 2007 KVL was merged into University of Copenhagen as Forest & Landscape Denmark. Since 2013 Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen.

1998-2001: Scientist, Division of Forest Ecology, FSL.

Professional career

After my PhD I got strongly involved in research on the role of forests for mitigation of greenhouse effects and the particular contribution of forest soils. My research focused on decomposition of organic matter and carbon stocks as affected by tree species, forest management and land-use change, i.e. afforestation of former cropland. The work on tree species and afforestation of former cropland also included impacts on other environmental services such as water recharge and nitrogen retention. From 1998 I have been working as partner and project leader in various mainly externally funded projects. Since my PhD adjourn at Department of Forest Sciences, University of British Columbia, I have had shorter adjourns there twice to work on forest management and tree species effects on soil C and N dynamics. I have good experience in accounting of greenhouse gas balances from different ecosystems based on my role as responsible for the Danish reporting of carbon sequestration in Danish forests under UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol (2000-2009). My role as coordinator (2005-2010) of the Danish intensive forest monitoring programme (ICP Forests under UN-ECE and EU) has also given me good knowledge of biogeochemistry in forests in Denmark and EU. In addition, this task provided me good experiences in European cooperation on air pollution effects and carbon accounting. My main achievements have been to 1) provide new knowledge on tree species effects and management on soil C, water seepage and N retention based on common garden and other long-term field experiments that enabled separation of tree species effects from site-related factors; 2) the establishment of unique chronosequences of afforestation at two sites in Denmark including the publication of results on ecosystem services (C sequestration, water recharge, water quality, and biodiversity) within national and EU FP5 projects; 3) the installation of a lab facility for measurement of non-CO2 greenhouse gases in the field in afforestation chronosequences and soil moisture gradients used to evaluate effects of changed soil moisture regimes in forests; 4) Cooperation at EU and global level with researchers within EU projects, COST and my informal scientific network with the aim to synthesize data and knowledge of management, tree species and land-use change effects on soil C dynamics; 5) success in applications for externally funded projects (>DKK 20 mio. during the last five years).

I have coordinated a large project on resampling of carbon and nitrogen stocks in Danish forest soils which contributes to the Kyoto Protocol reporting and will in the next years lead a second phase of this project. I recently coordinated the Danish activities in the FP7 project GHG-Europe in which we contributed with resampling of our unique chronosequence experiments to support the knowledge on soil C dynamics following land-use change. I have just finalized our activities in the EU FP7 project FUNDIV-EUROPE in which we led activities regarding tree species diversity effects on soil properties including C and N. Other current projects focus on carbon storage and dynamics in forest soils under different tree species and methane and nitrous oxide emission from soils. I have recently been particularly engaged in activities to synthesize effects of tree species on soils with focus on SOC dynamics and stocks finalized in a special issue of Forest Ecology and Management on this topic as Guest Editor with Cindy Prescott, UBC. This special issue includes my synthesis paper “Do tree species influence soil carbon stocks in temperate and boreal forests?”.

 Key research topics

Biogeochemistry of forest ecosystems with a focus on C and N cycling as well as water balances. My main emphasis has been on soil C stocks, their turnover and change as affected by tree species, management, soil type and land-use change. I have worked on the capacity of ecosystems to provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water recharge, and water quality including the overall synthesis and trade-offs between these services. I continue to focus on management, land-use change and soil type controls on soil C, but currently work to direct my research into characterization of the processes behind patterns observed in soil C dynamics.


I have authored and co-authored 59 currently accepted or published reviewed papers which have generated 2008 citations (Web of Science, 02.12.2015). h-index: 23. The three most cited papers, of which I am the senior author of the latter two, have 392, 205 and 132 citations WoSCC), respectively. 34 papers are cited 10 times or more.

Services to academia, memberships, awards

  • Associate Editor for Canadian Journal of Forest Research since 2005
  • Editorial Board Member, Forest Ecology and Management since 2013
  • Reviewer for a wide range of other journals within soil science and biogeochemistry, e.g. Plant and Soil, Geoderma, Geoderma Regional, Biogeosciences, Oecologia. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Global Change Biology, Ecosystems, Pedobiologia,
  • Awarded Heilmann’s Honorary Prize for researchers in 2003 for my effort within forest science.
  • Chair of Working Group 2 on management and land-use change effects on soil GHG dynamics and member of steering committee in Cost Action 639 “Greenhouse-gas budget of soils under changing climate and land use”, 2006-2010.
  • Member of board of Danish Society of Soil Science (1999-2010)
  • Member of European Geophysical Union (2012-)
  • Member of Expert Panels on Soil and Soil Solution, Expert Panel on Deposition and Expert Panel on Foliage and Litterfall within ICP Forests.
  • Member of board of external examiners in Physical Geography 2006-2013.
  • Member of Study Board for Natural Resources and Environment at University of Copenhagen since 2013.
  • Deputy chair of Research group “Biogeochemistry” and in the Research Committee at IGN since 2013

 Invited key notes (recent)

  • Carbon sequestration following afforestation of cropland. Nordic Centre for Studies of Ecosystem Carbon Exchange and its Interactions with the Climate System. Kuopio, Finland, Feb. 28-29, 2008.
  • Soil carbon sequestration in forestry: influences of changed land use and management. Soil carbon sequestration for climate, food security and ecosystem services. International conference, Reykjavik, Iceland, May 26-29, 2013.

 Major present and past research projects

  • SINKS 2 - Soil carbon in Danish forests – resampling of forest inventory plots and data consolidation. Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building, 2014-2021, DKK 8.0 mio. Coordinator
  • Partitioning forest ecosystem respiration by application of novel isotope laser spectroscopy. The Danish Council for Independent Research / Natural Sciences, 2013-2016, DKK 0.6 mio. to IGN.
  • Changes in soil carbon stocks following conversion of cropland to short rotation forestry, Glud’s Foundation, 2012-2015, DKK 0.4 mio.
  • Inventory and dynamic analysis of the semi-natural forest reserve Suserup Forest 2012: Carbon stocks. Hartmann’s Foundation, 2012-2013, DKK 0.4 mio to soil carbon inventory.
  • FunDivEUROPE – Functional significance of forest biodiversity in Europe, EU FP7 IP, 2010-2015, DKK 2.6 mio. PI for tree species diversity influences on soil C, N and pH.
  • Forest Soil C sink Nordic Network, Nordforsk, 2010-2014, NOK 1.2 mio.
  • C-FOR-SOIL  - Carbon sequestration in forest soils - the effect of nitrogen deposition. Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation, 2009-2012, DKK 3.3 mio.
  • GHG-Europe IP, EU FP7, 2010-2013, DKK 0.3 mio., co-PI for afforestation work.
  • FutMon – Further Development and Implementation of an EU-level Forest Monitoring System, EU LIFE+, 2009-2010, DKK 2.2 mio. + DKK 2.2 mio. co-funding from Ministry of Envrionment. Danish coordinator, overall coordination by vTI, Germany.
  • SINKS – Inventory of soil carbon in art. 3.4 forest land. Ministry of Climate and Energy, 2007-2010, DKK 5.2 mio. Coordinator
  • Soil carbon and greenhouse gas fluxes as affected by soil moisture regime - Product development Scheme (PUF), 2008-2010, DKK 0.7 mio, Coordinator of FLD tasks.
  • Emission of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide from wet forest soils – Glud’s Foundation, 2004-2006, DKK 0.4 mio. Coordinator
  • Carbon and nitrogen interactions in deposition gradients from forest edges. The Agricultural and Veterinary Research Council, 2004-2005, DKK 1.3 mio.  
  • BCN - Carbon sequestration, nitrogen retention and water quality in broadleaved forests. The Agricultural and Veterinary Research Council, 2004-2005, DKK 1.5 mio. Coordinator 
  • NAT-MAN – Nature-based management of beech in Europe - EU FP5, 2000-2003, DKK 1 mio. Work package coordinator.
  • AFFOREST – Afforestation management in northwestern Europe - influence on nitrogen leaching, groundwater recharge, and carbon sequestration,EU FP5, 2000-2004, DKK 2.7 mio. Co-PI and coordinator during last year of project.

 Supervision and teaching

Current PhD supervision: Relena Ribbons (Feb. 2014-), Bingru Wang (Dec. 2015-). Previous Ph.D. students:  Seid M. Dawud (defence Nov. 2015), Claudia Guidi (defence March 2015), Shimon Ginzburg (defence Sept. 2014), Teresa Gomez de la Bárcena (defence March 2014), Jesper Riis Christiansen (defence Sept. 2010), Eva Ritter (defence June 2004).

Supervision of MSc theses: Farhana Zaman (SUFONAMA, grad. Aug. 2015), Tomas Degeti Sitota (SUFONAMA, grad. Aug. 2015), Md. Masudur Rahman (SUFONAMA, grad. July 2013), Judith Boveland (EnvEuro, grad. Sept. 2012), Syed Faiz-ul Islam (graduated Aug. 2012), Muzaffar Hussain (SUFONAMA, grad. Nov. 2011), Oliver Branch (ENVEURO, graduated Dec. 2010), Karen Sverrild Jørgensen (Forestry, June 2008). Internship host and BSc. thesis supervisor for BSc student Karolin Heiser (2008-2009) and BSc. thesis supervisor for Kasper Kleinert (Natural Resources, June 2014).

Teaching: BSc courseEcology of Natural Resources” (15 ECTS), contributing teacher (13%) from the department. MSc. course “Ecology and Ecosystems Science in Relation to Environmental Economics” (15 ECTS) from 2013 (co-responsible with Associate Professor Inge Stupak). Both courses include lectures, exercises, project supervision and excursions.

I passed the course “Higher Education Teaching” at Faculty of Science, KU in 2013.

I have served on Ph.D. defence committees, e.g. Lisa Bjørnlund, Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Anna Hagen-Thorn, Lund University and Lotte Van Nevel, University of Ghent, March 2015. As a member of the Board of external examiners in Physical Geography (2006-2013) and Agriculture (2013) I have served as external examiner on BSc and MSc theses as well as oral exams at University of Copenhagen, University of Aarhus and University of Aalborg.

Publication counts

Peer-reviewed accepted articles: 59; Book chapters: 12; Proceedings: 14; Public outreach activities and reports: 54.

Lars Vesterdal 02.12.2015

ID: 4232958