The Daniels Faculty is pleased to announce the appointments of two new tenure-track faculty members to its forestry department. Rasoul Yousefpour will join the Faculty as an assistant professor of forestry economics and policy. And Danijela Puric-Mladenovic, who has been teaching forestry at the University of Toronto since 2006 as an adjunct professor and limited-term assistant professor, will join the Faculty permanently as an assistant professor, in the teaching stream.
"A new page turns for forestry at the University of Toronto with the recent hiring of new colleagues in teaching and research," says Sandy Smith, director of the Daniels Faculty's forestry program. "We are excited to welcome Dr. Danijela Puric-Mladenovic and Dr. Rasoul Yousefpour to our complement in forestry and conservation at Daniels."
Danijela Puric-Mladenovic earned her PhD from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Forestry in 2003. Soon afterward, she embarked on a career that would combine academic pursuits with applied science and research for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, where she was a senior analyst until 2019.
Puric-Mladenovic specializes in applied and problem-solving science and research, vegetation monitoring, strategic conservation, restoration, and integrated spatial planning of green systems. Her work on the development of a conservation plan for Ontario's Oak Ridges Moraine strategically guided the restoration of 680 hectares of land. She also developed an innovative natural heritage system design methodology that several conservation groups in southern Ontario have now implemented.
As part of her applied research program, Forests in Settled and Urban Landscapes, she works with dozens of partner organizations on a variety of different research themes, including development of monitoring indicators, predictive mapping of vegetation, forest biomass, carbon and ecological goods and services, historical ecology, and analysis of the effects of anthropogenic climate change on Ontario's forests. As part of an international team, she worked on a just-published paper for Science Advances, titled "Natural Climate Solutions for Canada," for which she led urban forest analysis.
Danijela envisioned and developed Vegetation Sampling Protocol (VSP) — a strategic, broad-scale inventory monitoring and research program supporting the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. It has been implemented by municipalities, NGOs, and conservation groups across southern Ontario. Puric-Mladenovic also performs a considerable amount of public outreach through Neighbourwoods, a community-based tree inventory, monitoring, and stewardship program she co-founded in 1995 with Daniels Faculty professor emeritus W.A. Kennedy. Neighbourwoods is currently working with communities in the Toronto neighbourhood of Long Branch, and in the cities of Hamilton and Ottawa.
“I am incredibly pleased to be joining the Daniels Faculty on a permanent basis in this exciting time, when societies and communities across the globe are mobilized and united in their efforts to conserve and restore nature and landscapes," Puric-Mladenovic says. "With its unique programs, Daniels has been at the forefront of this green wave through its research, teaching, and professional and community outreach."
Rasoul Yousefpour earned his PhD from the University of Frieburg, Germany, in 2009. He has been an assistant professor there since 2014. His area of specialty is adaptive forest management and decision-making. He uses ecological modelling approaches to forecast the ways forests will grow and change over time, then performs analysis on those models to determine the effects of different human interventions.
Yousefpour has published extensively on these topics. For a 2018 paper in Scientific Reports, he modelled the effects of Climate-Smart Forestry management techniques — which aim to maximize the climate benefits of forests — in 18 European countries. He and his co-authors found a potential forest management strategy that could sequester between 7.2 and 11.1 billion tonnes of carbon during the 21st century and produce up to 141 billion euros in economic value.
For a 2019 paper, published in the Journal of Forest Economics, Yousefpour and his co-author used Bayesian inference to model the growth of European beech trees in central Europe under 12 different potential climate change scenarios. The study concludes that the risks and uncertainties introduced by climate change will require forest managers to take into account unpredictable variations both in the growth of forests and in public demand for forest products.
Yousefpour is a leader of several national and international projects related to risk management in forestry. He's the coordinator of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations working group on risk analysis. Last year, he organized an international training workshop for researchers interested in learning about economic models for water protection in forests. He's also an associate editor of the journal Annals of Forest Science.
"Joining the Daniels Faculty is a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary research between art and science," Yousefpour says. "I am excited to join this innovative school and collaboratively develop nature-based and climate-smart solutions for society."