Congress Spotlight #28: American Indian forestry: blending science and tradition

American Indian forestry: blending science and tradition

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Prescribed fire used by the Tribes for centuries (Flathead Indian Reservation managed by the Confederated Tribes of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes). Photo by IFMAT-III

Prescribed fire used by the Tribes for centuries (Flathead Indian Reservation managed by the Confederated Tribes of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes). Photo by IFMAT-III

For thousands of years, American Indians have been managing the forests in which they live.

Today, with trained professionals who are tribal members, their forests are managed with modern tools and methods; include manufacturing facilities and address global forest issues such as climate change, forest certification, carbon sequestration and a changing work force.

But the way in which American Indians manage their forests often differs from the philosophies and methods of non-native forest organizations that have been in North America for only a few hundred years.

And, those philosophical and operational differences – which will be elaborated on in less than two weeks at the IUFRO World Congress in Salt Lake City – leave American Indian forestry facing three major challenges, says Don Motanic, technical specialist with the U.S. Intertribal Timber Council.

One challenge to tribal forests is from fire or other forest health hazards that can spread from adjacent federal lands where forests are often allowed to age without being thinned or using prescribed burns, says Mr. Motanic.

Prescribed burns are relatively small-scale controlled burns, he explains, and are widely used on tribal lands as a management tool. The fire removes dead and dying trees as well as other combustible materials from the forest floor and, by reducing these potential fuels, limits the occurrence and scope of wildfire; diminishes the danger from insect and disease infestations; and opens up space to allow sunlight in to promote grass and shrubbery growth that increases biodiversity and provides browse, berries and other foods for deer, elk, bears and other wildlife.

A second challenge is funding. Tribes, he says, receive only 30% of the funding that goes to other federal forests.

The third challenge is the gap between a science-only forest management philosophy and the tribes’ approach that uses scientific knowledge, but connects it to traditional knowledge, culture and values.

As an example of the different perspectives, Mr. Motanic notes that non-tribal forest organizations may name a forest for a single person. But many tribal people take their identity from the forest, from landforms, animals and other aspects of nature. They see themselves as part of a natural, holistic continuum.

Restored forest after timber harvest, thinning and fire (Flathead Indian Reservation managed by the Confederated Tribes of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes). Photo by IFMAT-III

Restored forest after timber harvest, thinning and fire (Flathead Indian Reservation managed by the Confederated Tribes of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes). Photo by IFMAT-III

They view nature, and their relationship with it, as an infinite event. So, naming a forest after one person is a reference to only one lifetime – a finite unit – and, from the American Indian perspective, doesn’t make sense, he says.

Mr. Motanic says the IUFRO World Congress will give American Indians an opportunity to show the rest of the world what the tribes are doing in terms of forest management and, once those people are aware, the hope is they will want to learn more.

They will see, he says, that American Indian forest stewardship supports thriving, fully empowered communities that share success in exercising sovereign decision-making, creating sustainable economies for communities and implementing strategies that perpetuate forest health for future generations.

The world will learn that the tribes are sovereign nations dealing with the United States on a government-to-government basis, unique to each of the 565 tribes in the country. They will also learn that the values for each tribe may differ and in each case their forest management is guided by culture and tradition absorbed over thousands of years.

This Congress session, entitled “American Indian Forestry” will also illustrate how the tribes have developed a balance among social, economic and environmental issues in terms of their forest management, Mr. Motanic says, and will show how a growing workforce of tribal technicians, professionals and researchers is guiding their forest management.

 

See you at the IUFRO 2014 World Congress!
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Follow IUFRO 2014 on Twitter! Join IUFRO 2014 on Facebook!

 

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Related Links

IUFRO Spotlight main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at: http://iufro2014.com/scientific-program/overview/

Spotlight #27 – Genes the means to screen future forest scene

Genes the means to screen future forest scene

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Women caring for tree seedlings in a nursery in Niger. Credit: Bioversity International/L. Snook

Women caring for tree seedlings in a nursery in Niger. Credit: Bioversity International/L. Snook

Forest ecosystem restoration is a critical component in tackling climate change, combatting biodiversity loss and desertification, and for providing products and services that support livelihoods at a local level.

For those reasons, restoring and rehabilitating forests and degraded lands will be one of the major environmental challenges of this century.

But, as a recent thematic study coordinated by Bioversity International, a IUFRO Member Organization, for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Genetic Considerations in Ecosystem Restoration Using Native Tree Species – notes, there is more to forest restoration than simply planting trees.

It requires careful, knowledge-based planning that includes consideration of genetic aspects – among them, suitability of germplasm to the site, quality/quantity of the genetic pool used, and regeneration potential.

The study highlights the breadth and depth of genetic aspects that need to be considered in ecosystem restoration using native tree species. And it offers recommendations for researchers, policy makers and restoration practitioners to better address deficiencies that could compromise the success of some restoration efforts.

It brings together the existing knowledge on genetic issues in ecosystem restoration, identifying knowledge gaps and areas needing further research and development efforts.

The study’s editors – nine of them, from six different organizations – point out that the adoption of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity for 2011-2020 calls for 15% of all degraded lands to be restored by 2020. That’s 150 million ha of degraded land to be restored.

That makes it extremely important that such massive restoration initiatives be carried out using the best available information to increase the probability of success and cost-effectiveness.

The impact of planting genetic materials that are mismatched to the site conditions may become obvious within a year or so, but the negative effects of restoration based on insufficient diversity will be seen only after many years, they add.

Underlining the importance of planning, they note numerous past restoration projects that – undertaken without due diligence – never achieved their expected goals. spotlight27-biodiversity-publication-cover

Among the study’s recommendations:

For research:
— Evaluate the impact of different restoration methods on the genetic diversity of restored tree populations.
— Develop protocols and practical indicators to monitor and evaluate the genetic diversity of tree populations in restoration efforts as an indicator of the viability and resilience of ecosystems.

For practitioners:
— Give priority to native tree species in restoration projects.
— Given the uncertainty of future climate, promote resilience by maximizing species and genetic diversity from sources that are similar to the site conditions, encouraging gene flow and generational turnover and facilitating species migration to allow for natural selection.

For policy-makers:
— Put in place supportive regulatory frameworks that guide the production and supply of propagation material of native tree species and the use of adequately diverse material of appropriate origin in restoration efforts.
— Broaden education and training curricula to promote understanding of the importance of using native species and genetically diverse and appropriate propagation material, as well as appropriate approaches in restoration projects.

The thematic study was coordinated by Bioversity International as an input to the FAO report on The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources and is an important step in the implementation of the FAO Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources.

The full study can be found through Bioversity: http://www.bioversityinternational.org/e-library/publications/detail/genetic-considerations-in-ecosystem-restoration-using-native-tree-species/ or through the FAO: http://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/4f411455-6411-4319-8336-e49fab43c416/

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Media Contact Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org

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Related Links
Bioversity International:  http://www.bioversityinternational.org/
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): http://www.fao.org/
IUFRO Spotlights main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

Congress Spotlight #26: To manage forests sustainably – think synergy

To manage forests sustainably – think synergy

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spotlight26-sustainability-synergyA comprehensive study of the conditions that assist sustainable forest development will be published at the upcoming IUFRO World Congress this fall in Salt Lake City, USA.

The title of the publication, produced by the IUFRO Special Project on World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO-WFSE), is Forests Under Pressure – Local Responses to Global Issues.

Deforestation and forest degradation continue despite considerable attention devoted to advancing sustainable forest management (SFM).

There has simply not been sufficient change at the local level and, in many locations pressures on forest lands are increasing, says Dr. Pia Katila of the Finnish Forest Research Institute, the project coordinator.

With that in mind, this volume systematically analyzes local- and regional-level initiatives from various parts of the world.

It uses them to shed light on the conditions (and combinations of conditions) that enhance – or hinder – progress toward (SFM) and forest-related sustainable development at the local level.

Influences that shape natural resource management originate at different scales, from local to global, and often originate in other economic or political sectors. That, in turn, calls for interdisciplinary approaches that focus on the diversity of issues and conditions that affect resource management on those different scales, Dr. Katila says.

So the book reflects an effort to move toward a more integrated and holistic approach in analyzing the different conditions that influence forest resources management and, in particular, associated forest and livelihood outcomes.

In the book, those conditions are captured among four broad groups:
– Policies, institutions and governance;
– Livelihoods, capacities, cultural and socio-economic aspects;
– Natural resource base; and
– Research and monitoring.

The book examines 27 local- and regional-level case studies from different parts of the world, presents a synthesis of the studies and the main findings derived from the cases, and discusses several of the issues in the context of future outlooks and scenarios.

There is no single recipe for success, Dr. Katila says. A certain degree of flexibility is required to respond to varying situations in different contexts. But, in general the advancement of SFM requires attention to how effects originating from different scales interact and how these interactions influence local livelihoods and forest conditions. The main conclusions from the book emphasize the importance of synergistic policies and measures.

One of the positive examples in the book in this respect is the case study from the state of Acre, Brazil. This case demonstrates how positive trends in livelihoods and forest conditions are supported by alignment of different sectoral policies and policy implementation.

In Acre, comprehensive policy and regulatory reforms were supported by mobilizing resources, extension services, credit and links with agricultural policies, which led to reduced pressures on forests.

And, Dr. Katila notes, unless more holistic approaches are implemented, deforestation and forest degradation will continue, leading to diminishing provision and availability of forest ecosystem services – such as timber, non-timber forest products, hydrological services and carbon sequestration.

Visit the IUFRO-WFSE webpages for more information on the Project:
http://www.iufro.org/science/special/wfse/

 

See you at the IUFRO 2014 World Congress!
http://iufro2014.com/
Follow IUFRO 2014 on Twitter! Join IUFRO 2014 on Facebook!

 

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Related Links
Special Project on World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO-WFSE):
http://www.iufro.org/science/special/wfse/

IUFRO Spotlight main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at: http://iufro2014.com/scientific-program/overview/

Spotlight #25 – Mixed species growth predictions made easy – well, easier

Mixed species growth predictions made easy – well, easier

 

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Measuring transpiration by collecting sap flow data from a Eucalyptus globulus tree that is growing in a mixed species plantation with Acacia mearnsii. This will be used to understand the processes driving species interactions in these mixtures. (Photo by David Forrester; Cann River, Australia)

Measuring transpiration by collecting sap flow data from a Eucalyptus globulus tree that is growing in a mixed species plantation with Acacia mearnsii. This will be used to understand the processes driving species interactions in these mixtures. (Photo by David Forrester; Cann River, Australia)

A recent study indicates why it is difficult to predict how mixed-species forests or plantations will grow, but makes those predictions easier by discussing the processes that drive changes over space and time in species interactions.

Since tree species mixtures are regarded as one of the most important approaches to reduce the risks to forests posed by global change, the study’s conclusions will be of interest to forest managers or policy makers using mixed-species forests or plantations.

Entitled The spatial and temporal dynamics of species interactions in mixed-species: From pattern to process, the study is by Dr. David Forrester, Chair of Silviculture, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Freiburg University.

He says many studies have examined how species interactions influence the growth of mixtures, but few have examined how spatial and temporal differences in resource availability or climatic conditions can influence these interactions.

This study gives a conceptual model that fits all the studies found in the literature – something that had not been done previously, Dr. Forrester says.

The reason it had not been done before, he notes, is because no explanation was given for why positive interactions between tree species might increase as resource availability or climatic conditions improve.

There has been a perception that positive interactions will increase in importance as growing conditions become harsher, often indicated by site quality. While often true, this can be a misconception, he says, partly due to a large amount of literature from environments that are too harsh to support forests and where stand densities are likely to be much lower.

Secondly, he adds, this review notes that site quality is often not a good predictor of species interactions because it does not necessarily correlate well with the actual availability of water or of a given nutrient and it is these resources that influence species interactions, not site quality per se. However, many studies that examine spatial dynamics of species interactions do actually use site quality.

The study also points out important methodological contrasts between studies examining facilitation between tree species in forests or plantations compared with studies done in less productive ecosystems with lower densities and where facilitation is among herbs, grasses and shrubs rather than different tree species, he adds. Those studies sometimes confound stand density with species composition, which is an important distinction in productive systems like forests.

The take-home messages for managers and policy makers, says Dr. Forrester, are:

  • that mixed species forests or plantations could be useful ways to improve productivity levels and product diversity in comparison to monocultures;
  • that different types of mixtures will be good where resource availability is low compared with sites where availability is high; and
  • that matching the types of species interactions with the existing growth limiting factors is critical.

Dr. Forrester’s review shows the different spatial and temporal patterns that have been observed and provides explanations about the processes involved and is now being used as a framework to test process-based growth models that could be used as a tool by foresters and policy makers.

The full study can be found at:
https://www.waldbau.uni-freiburg.de/news_events-en/Review_Mixture_interaction_en?set_language=en

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Media Contact

Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org

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Related Links

IUFRO Spotlights main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

Congress Spotlight #24 – Got a question? Biomass may be the answer

Got a question? Biomass may be the answer

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By selecting proper species and breeding experiments as well as genetic modifications as done here in Thailand, fast growing species plantations are capable of producing enormous amounts of biomass within short periods of time. The challenge is, however, to sustain soil fertility, biodiversity and other ecosystem services such as clean water. (Photo by Victor Bruckman)

By selecting proper species and breeding experiments as well as genetic modifications as done here in Thailand, fast growing species plantations are capable of producing enormous amounts of biomass within short periods of time. The challenge is, however, to sustain soil fertility, biodiversity and other ecosystem services such as clean water. (Photo by Viktor Bruckman)

It’s just possible that sustainable biomass could be, if not a panacea for the world’s energy challenges, then perhaps the next best thing.

And not only the energy sector would benefit. The reasons for the sustainable use of biomass are many and good, says Dr Viktor Bruckman of the Commission for Interdisciplinary Ecological Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

In addition to the energy aspect, he adds that biomass offers a range of possibilities as a valuable feedstock for industrial processes. Chemical compounds in biomass can be separated and rearranged to produce everything from composites for use in the automobile industry, to fibres to pesticide ingredients, among others.

He, along with Dr Sanjeev Kumar Chauhan of India’s Punjab Agricultural University and Dr Robert Jandl of Austria’s Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape, will present a session entitled Sustainable Biomass for Energy and Industrial Raw Materials at the IUFRO World Congress this fall in Salt Lake City, USA.

In the session, Dr Bruckman and his colleagues will provide a review of current issues in biomass development from biomass cultivation to development of biomass-based products and conversion of biomass to energy, with a strong focus on forests. They want to identify hotspots and deficits in research and to provide a platform for international discussion and for the initiation of collaboration across borders and topics.

Outlining some of the positive attributes of biomass use, Dr Bruckman points out that it’s a renewable feedstock so its availability is nearly infinite and it has a value-added aspect in that it could create green jobs in remote areas.

As opposed to crude oil, biomass can be produced just about anywhere, so it has the potential to make the energy economy foundation more resilient. On the other hand, fossil fuel pricing – especially crude oil – is vulnerable to declining stores of easily available resources and political instability, among other issues.

Biomass is also nearly greenhouse gas neutral. Carbon released during its utilization was taken from the atmosphere during growth and, he adds, if used to feed industrial processess, it is also carbon-negative so long as the carbon sequestered during growth is trapped in the new material or product (and the longer the product’s life cycle, the better from a carbon sequestration perspective).

In some cases, he suggests, biomass feedstocks may even grow on marginal soils that are unsuitable for agriculture.

But he also notes that, on the other side of the biomass utilization ledger, there are some critical challenges that must be met head-on, including the possibility of competition between biomass crops and primary agricultural production.

Physical space is another issue. Biomass needs area in which to be produced and this implies land use change and some related negative consequences of that. Intensive cultivation may trigger groundwater pollution or exhaustion in dry regions and it may also trigger soil degradation which is difficult, if not impossible, to repair.

Dr Bruckman also notes that, from an ecological and carbon perspective, plus the related loss of biodiversity, changes to local climate and the release of large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, it is a major negative factor if tropical forests are clear-cut to establish biomass crops.

But, he says, while these issues are indeed critical, they are not insurmountable. They can be addressed and overcome through research, multinational cooperation and the development and sharing of best practice guidelines.

It becomes a question of ensuring the measures taken to enhance biomass production are correctly implemented and appropriately managed, Dr Bruckman says.

A biomass system cannot be based on existing “fossil” infrastructure, and that is an important factor to keep in mind, he adds. To Dr Bruckman that means bio-based economies will have to act in a more localized and decentralized fashion. This will make the whole system more flexible and should help mitigate negative consequences from land use changes.

There is a need to develop the biomass sector, Dr Bruckman says, in order to sustain the planet for future generations. There is a huge potential. But biomass development, management and utilization must be science-based in order to rule out potentially negative consequences.


See you at the IUFRO 2014 World Congress!
http://iufro2014.com/
Follow IUFRO 2014 on Twitter! Join IUFRO 2014 on Facebook!

 

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Related Links

IUFRO Working Party 7.01.03 – Impacts of air pollution and climate change on forest ecosystems – Atmospheric deposition, soils and nutrient cycles, http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/70000/70100/70103/

IUFRO Research Group 1.03.00 – Short-rotation forestry, http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-1/10000/10300/

IUFRO Task Force on Forest Bioenergy, http://www.iufro.org/science/task-forces/forest-bioenergy/

IUFRO Spotlight main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at: http://iufro2014.com/scientific-program/overview/

Spotlight #23 – Eucalyptus genome successfully sequenced

Eucalyptus genome successfully sequenced

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Professor Zander Myburg of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in front of Eucalypt trees. Photo by Photowise.

Professor Zander Myburg of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in front of Eucalypt trees. Photo by Photowise.

With a result that offers major potential for the forest industry, an international team of researchers has successfully sequenced and analyzed the genome of Eucalyptus grandis.

“Now that we understand which genes determine specific characteristics in these trees, we will be able to breed trees that grow faster, have higher quality wood and use water and land more efficiently,” said the lead investigator on the project, Prof. Zander Myburg of the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

“This will also allow us to breed trees better able to cope with future climate change scenarios. In the future, we may even be able to develop and manage eucalyptus plantations as ‘bio-factories’ to produce specific kinds of sought-after materials and chemicals.”

Current uses for Eucalyptus, in addition to timber, pulp and paper, include eucalyptus oil used for cleaning and as an industrial solvent, as an antiseptic, for deodorizing, and in cough drops, toothpaste and decongestants. It is also an active ingredient in some commercial mosquito repellents. Increasingly Eucalyptus is being looked at for chemical cellulose, used in a wide variety of industrial products from textiles to pharmaceuticals.

Native to Australia, these trees have been introduced worldwide, mainly in tropical and sub-tropical countries – though they can be found along North America’s Pacific coast as far north as British Columbia.

Eucalyptus species and hybrids make up the most widely planted hardwood crop globally (over 20 million ha). Eucalypt plantations are grown in over 90 countries as short rotation (6-9 years) wood fibre crops. Their high productivity means there is less reliance and pressure on natural forests, especially in developing countries, where most eucalyptus plantations are grown, Prof. Myburg added.

This is only the second hardwood tree genome (Populus was the first) to be sequenced.

Prof. Myburg said being able to compare it to other trees such as Populus, willow, spruce and pine will allow us to study the unique biology of these large, long-lived plants that are keystone species for many of the earth’s ecosystems.

“Once we are able to boost the growth and wood properties of Eucalyptus, the same techniques can be applied to other woody plants with potential as biomass feedstock species for the post-petroleum economy,” he said.

What this achievement underlines is “that forest tree research has entered the post-genomics age,” Prof. Myburg added. “We can look toward technology development … (to come up with) solutions for threats like climate change, pests and diseases, and breed trees with enhanced growth and wood properties for a sustainable forest products industry.”

Already many international research teams are using the genome sequence as a reference for gene function studies and as a resource for molecular breeding of eucalyptus trees for enhanced growth, wood formation, disease resistance and abiotic responses to drought, cold and salinity, among other things.

The project was funded by the U.S Department of Energy, Joint Genome Institute (DOE-JGI). An international team of 80 researchers at more than 30 institutions (several of which are IUFRO member organizations) in 18 countries participated in the project. It took them five years to sequence and analyze the 640-million base pair genome.

The findings are available online: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v510/n7505/full/nature13308.html, and also in the June 19 edition of the journal Nature.

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Media Contact

Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org

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Related Links

The genome of Eucalyptus grandis: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v510/n7505/full/nature13308.html

IUFRO Working Party 2.08.03 – Improvement and culture of eucalypts: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-2/20000/20800/20803/

IUFRO Working Party 5.06.03 – Utilization of planted eucalypts: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-5/50000/50600/50603/

IUFRO Spotlights main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

Congress Spotlight #22 – Green cities: The benefits of the urban forest

Green cities: The benefits of the urban forest

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Experiencing the floodplain forests of the city of Leipzig, Germany, from the river (photo by Matilda Annerstedt)

Experiencing the floodplain forests of the city of Leipzig, Germany, from the river (photo by Matilda Annerstedt)

The urban forest means different things to different people.

Many of us see only visually pleasing tree-lined streets, or enjoy the coolness afforded by shade trees on hot days.

Those more closely involved with the urban forest see that – and much, much more.

They also see the urban forest in terms of the ecosystem services and values derived from it – reduced energy use of buildings, improved air quality, stream flows, water quality, urban wildlife, human health, climate change (in terms of both mitigation and species composition) and other benefits that are environmental, social and economic.

As an example of the economic value of urban forests, the chief economist for Canada’s Toronto Dominion Bank was interviewed by CBC-TV following last winter’s severe ice storm in Toronto in which many trees were damaged or destroyed. In the interview, he estimated the value of Toronto’s urban forest – more than 10 million trees covering 30% (190 square kilometres) of the city – at about $7 billion to the local economy, saying the trees “represent an important investment in environmental condition, human health and the overall quality of life.”

This fall, at the IUFRO World Forest Congress in Salt Lake City, a session entitled: Urban forest diversity and ecosystem services will focus on species diversity in cities across the globe, the ecosystem services provided by them, how forest composition and species diversity affect those services and values and how the composition and species diversity are changing and will continue to change going forward.

Session coordinators are Dr. David Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service and Wesley Kocher of the International Society of Arboriculture.

Urban forests provide critical services and values to residents and are under threat from various forces, Dr. Nowak says. By understanding local urban forest composition and recognizing the forces of change, management plans can be developed to sustain healthy, functional urban forests for future generations.

The biggest challenge facing urban forests, according to Dr. Nowak, is how municipalities deal with the numerous forces that have and will continue to alter them – exotic insects and diseases, invasive plant species, climate change and urban development.

All of these forces, he says, will alter tree health and species composition and consequently will alter the ecosystem services and values derived from the urban forest.

Limited understanding and awareness of those issues by the urban population, a lack of specific management guidelines on how to minimize the negative impacts of those external forces and limited financial resources are all roadblocks that have to be overcome, says Dr. Nowak.

On the upside, he says, research is being conducted and tools are being developed to assess the structure and value of urban forests, and educational outreach about the forests’ values and the risks that face them is also taking place. Many cities and towns have also begun taking steps to increase species diversity.

At the Congress, the urban forest session will present data on species diversity in cities across the globe, discuss how urban forest composition and species diversity affects various ecosystem services and values and illustrate how and why composition and species diversity are likely to change.

The information out of the session can then be used to help guide future research and policies related to sustaining urban forests and the critical ecosystem services provided by them and to implementing programs and projects that will help achieve those ends.

Find out more about the activities of IUFRO’s Urban Forestry Research Group at: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-6/60000/60700/

 


See you at the IUFRO 2014 World Congress!
http://iufro2014.com/
Follow IUFRO 2014 on Twitter! Join IUFRO 2014 on Facebook!

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Related Links

IUFRO Research Group 6.07.00 – Urban forestry: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-6/60000/60700/
IUFRO Spotlight main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at: http://iufro2014.com/scientific-program/overview/

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