Retention forestry now sparing trees and benefitting biodiversity worldwide

Jun 12, 2012

The management practice known as retention forestry, which involves deliberately leaving selected trees standing when wood is harvested, has spread to forests over much of the world and is bringing broad benefits to conservation, according to an assessment published in the July 2012 issue of BioScience. The study, by an international group of researchers headed by Lena Gustafsson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, concludes that the practice can complement reserve-based conservation in landscapes with widely varying histories, by preserving the complexity associated with natural forests. This contrasts with the ecological simplification that usually results from traditional industrial forest management.

Retention forestry started 25 years ago in northwestern North America under the names of "new forestry" and "green-tree retention." Both live and may be retained, with a preference for large specimens and for rare species. The practice brings a variety of benefits: it maintains the supply of , increases of harvesting, and ensures the continuity of key habitat components, for example, with corresponding benefits for tree-dwelling plants, wood-inhabiting insects, and fungi. Retention forestry also has fewer off-site impacts than traditional industrial and brings aesthetic benefits.

Retention forestry has not yet been fully implemented in , although some elements of it are present. Elsewhere, forestry companies have often taken a lead role in developing the retention approach, especially in parts of the United States, Australia, Canada, and several European countries. Certification by organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council, as well as legal policy instruments, has helped advance the practice.

The BioScience authors maintain that a minimum of 5 to 10 percent of trees should be retained in proper retention forestry. But more research is needed to learn how best to practice it in different areas and when different requirements predominate. There is also an urgent need to understand better the effects of retention forestry on flows of water and nutrients.

Explore further: Earth's resource budget for 2014 already spent, NGO says

More information: Retention Forestry to Maintain Multifunctional Forests: A World Perspective.
Lena Gustafsson, Susan C. Baker, Jürgen Bauhus, William J. Beese, Angus Brodie, Jari Kouki, David B. Lindenmayer, Asko Lõhmus, Guillermo Martínez Pastur, Christian Messier, Mark Neyland, Brian Palik, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, W. Jan A. Volney, Adrian Wayne, and Jerry F. Franklin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study could help recreate ancient woods

Jun 30, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from the University and the Forestry Commission studied remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forests in the Scottish Highlands.

Faster koa tree growth without adverse ecosystem effects

Mar 27, 2008

U.S. Forest Service scientists with the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry have completed a study on ways to make high-value koa trees grow faster, while increasing biodiversity, carbon sequestration, scenic ...

Energy consumption makes Spanish forestry unsustainable

Sep 11, 2009

Spain is one of the leading European countries, along with Sweden, in terms of wood production for paper paste, but this uses large amounts of energy. Spanish and Swedish scientists have compared the environmental ...

Recommended for you

Study to inform Maryland decision on "fracking"

1 hour ago

The Maryland Department of Environment and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released on August 18, 2014, a report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health, which assesses the potential ...

How the Asian monsoon affects methane emissions

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists at the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute have shown how changes in the Asian monsoon affected emissions of methane, a prominent greenhouse gas, from the Tibetan Plateau.

User comments : 0