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Plantation forests and biodiversity conservation

Lindenmayer, D.B., Hobbs, R.J. and Salt, D. (2003) Plantation forests and biodiversity conservation. Australian Forestry, 66 (1). pp. 62-66.

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There are five key reasons why biodiversity conservation should be considered a part of plantation management. (1) The plantation estate is large, and balancing various land management values with wood and pulp production is important when extensive areas of land are involved. (2) The locations and management of new plantations will affect the biota that currently exist in such landscapes. (3) Maintaining some elements of biodiversity within plantations can have benefits for stand productivity and the maintenance of key ecosystem processes such as pest control. (4) The retention (or loss) of biota in plantations is relevant to the formulation of ecological standards and the certification of plantations in many parts of the world. (5) Plantation forestry has a narrow and intensive management focus on producing a forest crop for a limited array of purposes. It will not meet future societal demands for a range of outputs from plantations (in addition to wood and pulp supply), and will not be congruent with the principles of ecological sustainability.

This paper briefly reviews the biodiversity conservation values of Australian plantation s. It shows that almost all work in Australian plantations, whether conifer or eucalypt, highlights the importance of landscape heterogeneity and stand structural complexity for enhancing biodiversity. Management of plantations to promote landscape heterogeneity and stand structural complexity and enhance the conservation of biodiversity will, in many cases, involve tradeoffs that will affect wood and pulp production. The extent to which this occurs will depend on the objectives of plantation management and how far they extend towards the more complex plantation forestry models that incorporate social and environmental values. We argue that the widespread adoption of plantation forestry that leads to homogenous stands of extensive monocultures will risk re-creating the array of negative environmental outcomes that have been associated with agriculture in many parts of Australia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Institute of Foresters of Australia Inc.
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