Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Plantations can provide the same ecosystem services as natural forests

Well-designed plantations can mitigate social, economic and environmental pressures

Not all plantations need to be the biological deserts that have come to characterize large-scale, industrial plantations. According to scientists in a paper out in February's issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 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.

"Forest plantations have acquired a bad reputation," says Alain Paquette from the Université du Québec à Montréal, who co-authored the study with colleague Christian Messier. "But not all plantations are so-called 'biological desserts.' We believe that plantations have a legitimate place in the sound management of forests, and our aim is to provide some basis for an open discussion and to promote the use of well-conceived plantations."

The researchers looked at the types of plantations currently in use, the benefits and challenges associated with each and the best methods for creating the greatest social, economic and environmental return. For example, the authors examined the constraints plantations place on protecting natural forests, mitigating the effects of climate change and restoring ecological services.

In terms of the protection of 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.

"We have to look beyond the rows of uniform trees and evaluate plantations over larger temporal and spatial scales," says Paquette. "Well-planned, multi-purposed plantations can help preserve high diversity, old-growth forests that would be cut otherwise."

As for climate change, the authors reference a direct link between climate change and deforestation: land-use change accounts for roughly 25 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. In order for plantations to help limit the effects of climate change, the researchers contend, nations need to address the current economic demand for dead trees over live ones.

The researchers argue that, although even industrial monocultures can produce meaningful ecological services when managed correctly, "we can do better locally by using biologically diverse, multi-purposed plantations," says Paquette. "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."

In contrast to the common perception of plantations as biological deserts, the researchers describe the necessary elements for a well-planned, biologically-diverse plantation system. 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.

As a follow-up to their research, Paquette and colleagues are testing the potential benefits of allocating a small proportion of land over a one million hectare territory in eastern Canada to well-planned, multi-purposed plantations.

"Our goal is to use low intensity forestry practices and increase the proportion of protected land in the area," Paquette says. "We hope our model will support the practical applications of well-planned, biologically-diverse plantations worldwide."

The Ecological Society of America is the world's largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four journals and convenes an annual scientific conference. Visit the ESA website at

Katie Kline | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>