Retention forestry now sparing trees and benefitting biodiversity worldwide

June 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: Study could help recreate ancient woods

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

Related Stories

Study could help recreate ancient woods

June 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

March 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 beauty and ...

Invasive beetle attacks redbay trees

January 13, 2008

A beetle imported from Asia is spreading around the southeast United States, leaving dead and dying redbay trees in its wake.

Energy consumption makes Spanish forestry unsustainable

September 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 load stemming ...

Recommended for you

Scientists examine bacterium found 1,000 feet underground

December 8, 2016

Pioneering work being carried out in a cave in New Mexico by researchers at McMaster University and The University of Akron, Ohio, is changing the understanding of how antibiotic resistance may have emerged and how doctors ...

New studies take a second look at coral bleaching culprit

December 7, 2016

Scientists have called superoxide out as the main culprit behind coral bleaching: The idea is that as this toxin build up inside coral cells, the corals fight back by ejecting the tiny energy- and color-producing algae living ...

Cosmic dust found in city rooftop gutters

December 7, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers with Imperial College London, the Natural History Museum in London, Project Stardust in Norway and Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, has found samples of cosmic dust in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.