Canadian Forest Service Publications

Plantations and biodiversity: a comment on the debate in New Brunswick. 2005. Betts, M.; Diamond, A.W.; Forbes, G.J.; Frego, K; Loo, J.A.; Matson, B.; Roberts, M.; Villard, M.-A.; Wissink, R.; Wuest, L. The Forestry Chronicle 81: 265-269.

Year: 2005

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 25393

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free)

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Abstract

The importance of biodiversity has become widely recognized but the best methods for conserving forest biodiversity are still being debated. Central to this debate is the influence of plantaitons and managed stands on local and landscape-scale biodiversity. A recent paper by Erdle and Pollard in the Forestry Chronicle (2002), which concluded that few plantations are strict monocultures in terms of the total number of tree species, could be interpreted as making the case that plantations have relatively minor consequences for biodiversity. We argue that: (1) it is not only the number of species, but also the identities and relative abundances of species that are of ecological importance, and (2) defining biodiversity in terms of tree species alone is of limited applicability. Existing research in New Brunswick on the impact of plantations on biodiversity at the stand scale reveals potentially significant biodiversity losses, at least in certain taxa. The proposal that incorporating more structural elements (e.g., snags, coarse woody debris, vertical structure) and retaining greater tree species diversity to ameliorate negative consequences of plantations remains a hypothesis to be tested in this region. Scientific information gathered in the following areas will allow better decision making: (1) to what degree are older plantations used by native species? (2) are productivity and survivorship of vertebrates in intensively managed stands similar to those in unmanaged stands? (3) are intensively managed stands suitable habitat for non-vertebrates? (4) are there thresholds in the response of some species to landscape-scale habitat lloss caused by intensive forest mangement?