Archive for August, 2014

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:


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Related Links
Special Project on World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO-WFSE):

IUFRO Spotlight main page,


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:


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:


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


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IUFRO Spotlights main page,