Recently we published a short response in Nature on a paper by Fares et al. that clearly confused forests and forestry when proposing how "sustainability" (of the industry?) should be achieved under climate change. As conservation biologist it should be obvious that forests are much more than timber, pulp and energy. We wish that this was evident also for a broader set of researcher and practitioners dealing with forest ecosystems. Apparently this was not the case for Fares and co-authors. Below is our initial somewhat longer submission to Nature. For the publication itself, see Jonsson, Pe'er & Svoboda, Nature 521: 32 ("Forests: not just timber plantations"): http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v521/n7550/full/521032b.html
Forests: Not just timber plantations!
|Foresty is different ....|
Fares et al. (Nature 519, 25 March 2015) offer useful recommendations for commodity forest landscapes, whose main goal is timber production. Yet the authors treat 30% of Europe’s terrestrial area as if they were plantations, discounting many other ecosystem services provided by forests. Their interventions ignore broad scientific evidence demonstrating that, to secure forests’ multiple values, one must work with nature and learn from it, seeking nature-based solutions rather than going against them (Kraus and Krumm 2013).
|...from forests, not obvious to all|
One central value is biodiversity, with significant proportion of European species depending on forests as a habitat; many being under severe threats from current forestry practices penetrating into, and fragmenting, forests across Europe. Forests also provide cultural ecosystem services, including recreational opportunities that generate highly significant revenues from tourism.
The interventions proposed by Fares et al. (2015) oppose these values and capacities, following the old-school control and command forestry where ecosystem stressors are maximized in space and time. There is little evidence to support the potential usefulness or benefits of this approach, in Europe or elsewhere in the world. Alternative guiding principles for forest protection should be to maintain landscape connectivity, heterogeneity and structural complexity, and to allow natural ecosystem processes including disturbances (Lindenmayer et al. 2006). Maintaining forests’ natural processes allows them to build resilience to climate change and other disturbances, whilst many forestry practices still do the opposite.
We warn against confusing forestry with forests. It portrays a false message that combating and controlling nature is good for Earth’s climate and offering sustainable solutions in a rapidly changing world. Given current EU deliberation toward a Common Forestry Strategy, we recall that the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy (Target 3b) requires minimizing forest management stressors on biodiversity, rather than intensifying pressures and perpetuating the image as if Europe’s forests are plantations.
Fares, S.; Mugnozza, G.S.; Corona, P. and Palahi, M. 2015. Sustainability: Five steps for managing Europe's forests. Nature, 519: 407–409.
Kraus, D. and Krumm, F. (eds) 2013. Integrative approaches as an opportunity for the conservation of forest biodiversity. European Forest Institute. 248 pp.
Lindenmayer, D. et al. 2006. General management principles and a checklist of strategies to guide forest biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation, 131: 433–445.
Bengt Gunnar Jonsson Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden
Guy Pe’er, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany.
Miroslav Svoboda, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic