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Managing tree plantations as novel socioecological systems: Australian and North American perspectives

Lindenmayer, David, Messier, Christian, Paquette, Alain, Hobbs, Richard J.
Canadian journal of forest research = 2015 v.45 no.10 pp. 1427-1433
biodiversity, biologists, ecosystem services, ecosystems, forest stands, humans, introduced species, issues and policy, landscapes, managers, new combination, plantations, wood
Novel ecosystems occur when new combinations of species appear within a particular biome. They typically result from direct human activity, environmental change, or the impacts of introduced species. In this paper, we argue that considering commercial tree plantations as novel ecosystems has the potential to help policy makers, resource managers, and conservation biologists better deal with the challenges and opportunities associated with managing plantations for multiple purposes at both the stand and landscape scales. We outline five inter-related issues associated with managing tree plantations, which are arguably the largest form of terrestrial novel ecosystem worldwide. This is to ensure that these areas contribute significantly to critical ecosystem services, including biodiversity conservation, in addition to their wood production role. We suggest that viewing tree plantations as novel socioecological systems may free managers from a narrow stand-based perspective and having to compare them with natural forest stands. This can help promote the development of management principles that better integrate plantations into the larger landscape so that their benefits are maximized and their potential negative ecological effects are minimized.