1 Tahrcountry Musings: Managing forests – The challenge of managing them as ecologically sustainable ecosystems

Friday, March 02, 2012

Managing forests – The challenge of managing them as ecologically sustainable ecosystems

Six principles for managing forests as ecologically sustainable ecosystems

David B. Lindenmayer and Saul A. Cunningham
 LANDSCAPE ECOLOGYDOI: 10.1007/s10980-012-9720-9

When we manage a landscape with the focus on its natural resources it is pretty difficult to ensure an ecologically sustainable future. Here the researchers suggest 6 principles for sustainable forest landscape management derived from insights in an array of natural and commodity production ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. Even though the thrust is on Australia it is likely to have broad applicability to many forested ecosystems worldwide.

These principles are.
(1) Landscape management problems are typically underpinned by human-use drivers that over-commit natural resources and undermine the ecosystem services which support the replenishment of those resources.
(2) Not all parts of a landscape are equal in their contribution to species persistence and ecological processes. Special steps are needed to secure the ecological integrity of these disproportionately important areas.
 (3) Managing connectivity is critical, but it is essential to determine what kind of connectivity is desirable, and for what species and processes.
 (4) Land use practices can produce spatial and temporal cumulative effects with negative impacts on biodiversity and ecological processes.
(5) Land use decisions on the land sparing–land sharing spectrum are highly scale and context dependent.
(6) Our understanding of landscape-scale processes is shaped by our conceptual model of the landscape. It is therefore important to check if a given mental model is appropriate for a given landscape and the species or ecological processes of concern.

The researchers affirm that these six principles should not be applied uncritically. They say it is best to treat them as a checklist of considerations that will help guide our thinking about landscape change, so that we can orient toward more ecologically sustainable landscape management.

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