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Conservation of biological diversity in temperate and boreal forest ecosystems

Citation

Norton, TW, Conservation of biological diversity in temperate and boreal forest ecosystems, Forest Ecology and Management , 85, (1-3) pp. 1-7. ISSN 0378-1127 (1996) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/S0378-1127(96)03745-0

Abstract

The regions of the world most uniformly and extensively modified by human activities are the temperate zones. Settlement and development of these productive and hospitable regions have a long history and have often resulted in dramatic impacts on biological diversity. Temperate and boreal forest ecosystems have not avoided these impacts. Impacts on biodiversity have occurred at the ecosystem, species, population and genetic levels. The geographic range of many species has been reduced, and in a number of cases species have become extinct. The extent of remaining old growth forest varies from less than 1% in western Europe to about 25% in New Zealand. In Australia, only about 2-3% of the old growth, temperate eucalypt forests on the most productive soils remain since European occupation of the continent in 1788, and these ecosystems are considered to be endangered. Given a broad definition of temperate forest ecosystems that includes various types of boreal forest in the Northern Hemisphere, approximately 2 billion ha of these ecosystems remain globally. By area, the majority of these forests occur in Russia (41%) and in North America (32%). The nature of these ecosystems, their biological productivity, complement of biological diversity, and use by humans varies considerably within and between major geographic regions. In general, most temperate and boreal forest ecosystems are poorly protected in conservation reserves and many are increasingly used for wood production to supply regional, national and international demand. Many conflicts have arisen over the conservation and management of these forests in the past few decades. This paper introduces the concept of sustainable development and briefly considers some of the policy processes concerned with the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable management in temperate and boreal forests. The International Forest Conference, from which the papers presented in this journal issue arise, is then described and the main findings of the papers summarised. Issues that need more attention include: how to adequately assess biodiversity from the local to the regional scale and integrate this information in a manner useful for landscape planning and management; how to develop policy processes that are genuinely open to community evaluation and scientific peer review; what is a sufficient precautionary approach to forest use given the uncertainties and risks arising from imperfect knowledge, predicted climate change and unforeseen events; and, how the needs of indigenous forest peoples can be best accommodated in the sustainable development of temperate and boreal forests. In addition, much more time needs to be dedicated to external strategies that will help relax many of the increasing demands that humans place on temperate anti boreal forest ecosystems. Without the latter, scope to enhance forest conservation and management and adapt over time may be limited.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Research Group:Forestry Sciences
Research Field:Forestry Sciences not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Other Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Field:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products not elsewhere classified
Author:Norton, TW (Professor Tony Norton)
ID Code:44903
Year Published:1996
Web of Science® Times Cited:35
Deposited By:Agricultural Science
Deposited On:2007-06-27
Last Modified:2011-10-04
Downloads:0

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