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Ecosystem Goods and Services from Plantation Forests

Given that plantations cover 140 million hectares, or 4% of the global forested area, and are a growing source of round wood and pulp, Ecosystem Goods and Services from Plantation Forests is very well timed edited value that can add value to the discussion and implementation of sustainable forest management within a carbon constrained and biodiversity depleted global economic system.

The two main categories of plantation forests are productive plantations with 109.3 million ha planted globally and protective plantations with 30.1 million ha planted globally. In fact, in 2005 1/3rd of industrial round wood was sourced from productive plantations. The ten most common planted genera are Pinus, Cunninghamia, Eucalyptus, Populus, Acacia, Larix, Picea, Tectona, Castanea, and Quercus which together represent 2/3rds of the total species planted by ha. Therefore, a successful ecosystem goods and services strategy could initially focus on enhancement strategies pertaining to these ten specific genera.

Coupled with the global expansion of plantation forests along with, according to IUCN, the 1.6 billion people who rely upon forests for some aspect of their daily sustenance, it should be a critical imperative to frame out models such as total economic value (TEV) to measure, monitor, and improve upon ecosystem services that provide provisioning, regulating, supporting, and amenity values within the ecological environment of a plantation forest.

For example, a TEV analysis for a plantation forest would consider direct use value, indirect use value, option value, bequest value, and existence value. Each indicator would be overlaid, measured and analyzed separately against the provisioning, regulating, supporting and amenity values within the plantation forest.

Yet clearly ecosystem services enhancements can be site dependent. For example, hydrological impacts from large-scale forest plantations are broadly site specific with situations that demonstrate positive hydrological impacts from plantation forests and situations that present negative impacts from plantation forests. Catchment level impacts regarding surface run-off, groundwater recharge and stream flow are also site dependent.

Also, it has been demonstrated that in the context of plantation forests both ecosystem productivity increases with the level of biodiversity and improved biodiversity may stabilize ecosystem services. Furthermore, there are specific silvicultural activities that forest managers can engage in to enhance biodiversity values while creating a positive feedback loop as demonstrated in the research above. These activities include site preparation and management; trees species selection, mixture, and density management; structural complexity creation from the canopy to the soil substrate; rotation length; and harvesting processes such as Reduced Impact Logging (RIL).

In conclusion, in the climate collapsing ecosystem that we have today, developing a strategic plan to measure, monitor, and adjust critical ecosystem goods and services enhancement processes are key to maintaining and developing sustainable productive and protection plantations that can succeed at both meeting key needs while providing climate collapse adaptation strategies for tomorrow.

How to order
Ecosystem Goods and Services from Plantation Forests
Edited By Jürgen Bauhus, Peter van der Meer and Markku Kanninen
Hardcover: 272 Pages, £49.99
Publisher: Earthscan, 2010

Gabriel Thoumi frequently contributes to

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