Canadian Forest Service Publications
Resilience of natural forests can jeopardize or enhance plantation productivity. 2021. Barrette, M.; Thiffault, N.; Auger, I.; Forest Ecology and Management. 482: 118872
Issued by: Canadian Wood Fibre Centre
Catalog ID: 40328
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The demand for wood products continues to increase globally. Productivity of forest plantations can be greater than that of naturally regenerated forests. Plantation forestry could thus be employed to meet up to 75% of global wood supply by 2050. The resilience of natural forests could jeopardize plantation productivity. If the plantation scenario is not oriented in the same direction as the natural successional trajectories that are driven by resilience, then naturally regenerating tree species could recover to the detriment of planted species. Unproductive plantations will likely generate sustainability issues, as they must provide ecosystem services (e.g., wood fiber production) while being economically viable for forest management to be sustainable. Our general objective of our study was to assess whether resilience of natural forests can jeopardized plantation productivity. We studied successional trajectories in recent, young and old black spruce plantations that are located within the balsam fir ecological region on balsam fir ecological site types. To compare with a plantation scenario that was more susceptible to aiming in the same direction as resilience-driven successional trajectories, we also studied successional trajectories in recent, young and old black spruce plantations that are not only located within the balsam fir ecological region, but on black spruce ecological site types. Successional trajectories on balsam fir ecological site types pointed towards recovery of balsam fir and white birch, to the detriment of black spruce. Successional trajectories on black spruce ecological site types pointed towards the recovery of black spruce. Thus, we showed that resilience of natural forests could jeopardize plantation productivity when the plantation scenario is not oriented in the same direction as resilience-driven successional trajectories. It also can enhance plantation productivity when the regime is oriented in the same direction as resilience-driven successional trajectories. To ensure that plantations are economically viable and promote sustainability, forest managers should thus favor plantation scenarios that point in the same direction as resilience-driven successional trajectories. Finally, we suggest adopting such scenarios, and stress that it would also be necessary to develop regimes that would promote sustainability in the context of alternative successional trajectories that will undoubtedly arise because of global changes.