Possibility of Plantations

Integrating Ecological Forestry into Plantation Systems

05-01-2006 // Stacy Brown, Eric Palola, Mark Lorenzo
The Possibility of Plantations Cover

This report seeks to show the innovation underway in many parts of the world to better integrate wildlife and biodiversity needs within plantation systems.

Landowners choosing to manage their forests for timber production must decide generally whether to use natural forest or a plantation management system. Plantations generally yield more product in less time than natural forests, yet they often result in a simplified ecosystem. Wildlife species have varying habitat requirements for food, water, shelter, and breeding areas that cover a range of forest succession types, from very young to very mature forests. Habitat diversity at the landscape level generally offers better opportunities to meet wildlife needs rather than striving to protect all diversity components within each stand or management unit.

During the decade spanning 1993-2003, the global forest plantation area increased by an estimated 32 million hectares, while the area of natural forests declined by 126 million hectares. This trend is expected to continue. As plantation systems represent an increasing proportion of our forested landscape, the need to incorporate biodiversity has become more urgent.

Can forest and plantation managers do a better job of integrating biodiversity and non-timber values into plantation systems? Yes! The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has found there are many examples from around the world where plantation managers are actively experimenting with, if not directly implementing, key biodiversity measures in their plantation systems. However, these “greener” plantation systems have not been broadly recognized nor have their techniques been sufficiently mainstreamed into plantation management at the level and pace of new plantation establishment.

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