1 Tahrcountry Musings: Well-designed plantations Can Provide the Same Ecosystem Services as Natural Forests

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Well-designed plantations Can Provide the Same Ecosystem Services as Natural Forests

Forest plantations have acquired a bad reputation when it comes to biodiversity. Against this background I was fascinated to read about the latest research by Alain Paquette from the Université du Québec à Montréal. According to Alain Paquette not all plantations need to be biological deserts.
 Observations of Alain Paquette came from his latest research. He goes on to add that well-planned plantations can actually alleviate some of the social, economic and ecological burden currently being placed on natural forests. In addition, these biologically diverse, multi-purposed plantations can mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, off-setting deforestation and reducing ecological strain on natural forests.
 The researchers found that plantations were capable of alleviating the ecological stressors placed on natural forests when used within an integrated forest zoning approach—that is, when rules are enforced to ensure any increase in plantations is matched by protected areas within the same landscape. The researchers says that even industrial monocultures can produce meaningful ecological services when managed correctly
 Paquette says "We have to look beyond the rows of uniform trees and evaluate plantations over larger temporal and spatial scales
 By improving plantation design through, among other methods, less intensive soil preparation, mixed-species vegetation and greater tolerance of other species in long-term maintenance, the authors believe that such plantations can deliver social, economic and environmental services similar to that of natural forests.
 Details of the research appears in February's issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

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