1 Tahrcountry Musings: All plantations Need Not Necessarily be 'Biological Desserts’

Monday, April 05, 2010

All plantations Need Not Necessarily be 'Biological Desserts’

Forest plantations have acquired a bad reputation over the years. They are branded as 'Biological Desserts’. Latest research indicates that this need not be true in all cases. Well-planned biologically diverse plantations can actually alleviate some of the social, economic and ecological burden currently being placed on natural forests. They can also mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, off-setting deforestation and reducing ecological strain on natural forests according to Alain Paquette from the Université du Québec à Montréal, who co-authored the study with colleague Christian Messier.
The researchers looked at the types of plantations currently in practice, their pros and cons and tried to arrive at the best methods for creating the greatest social, economic and environmental return. The researchers found that plantations were capable of ameliorating the ecological stressors placed on natural forests when used within an integrated forest zoning approach. This is to say is, any increase in plantations has to be matched by protected areas within the same landscape.
Alain Paquette adds “We have to look beyond the rows of uniform trees and evaluate plantations over larger temporal and spatial scales,".  "Well-planned, multi-purposed plantations can help preserve high diversity, old-growth forests that would be cut otherwise.”  "We can do better locally by using biologically diverse, multi-purposed plantations," "Theory and experimental works suggest that even more services could be produced with carefully chosen mixtures of species to promote the optimal use of resources."
By improving plantation design through  less intensive soil preparation, mixed-species vegetation and greater tolerance of other species in long-term maintenance, the researchers believe that plantations can deliver social, economic and environmental services similar to that of natural forests.
"Our goal is to use low intensity forestry practices and increase the proportion of protected land in the area," Paquette says. The researchers hope that their model will support the practical applications of well-planned, biologically-diverse plantations worldwide.

Alain Paquette, Christian Messier (2010), The role of plantations in managing the world's forests in the Anthropocene. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment: Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 27-34.

1 comment:

Ranit Rajan said...

This should serve as an eyeopener for the foresters