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What limits adoption of alternative silvicultural systems?

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Silvicultural alternatives to conventional even-aged forest management - what limits global adoption?


Puettmann K.J., Wilson S. McG., Baker S., Donoso P., Droessler L., Amente G., Harvey B. D., Knoke T., Lu Y., Nocentini S., Putz F. E., Yoshida T.  and Bauhus J.

The development of forestry as a scientific and management discipline over the last two centuries has mainly emphasized intensive management operations focused on increased commodity production, mostly wood. This “conventional” forest management approach has typically favored production of even-aged, single-species stands. While alternative management regimes have generally received less attention, this has been changing over the last three decades, especially in countries with developed economies. Reasons for this change include a combination of new information and concerns about the ecological consequences of intensive forestry practices and a willingness on the part of many forest owners and society to embrace a wider set of management objectives. Alternative silvicultural approaches are characterized by a set of fundamental principles, including avoidance of clearcutting, an emphasis on structural diversity and small-scale variability, deployment of mixed species with natural regeneration, and avoidance of intensive site-preparation methods.

Our compilation of the authors’ experiences and perspectives from various parts of the world aims to initiate a larger discussion concerning the constraints to and the potential of adopting alternative silvicultural practices.

The results suggest that a wider adoption of alternative silvicultural practices is currently hindered by a suite of ecological, economic, logistical, informational, cultural, and historical constraints. Individual contexts display their own unique combinations and relative significance of these constraints, and accordingly, targeted efforts, such as regulations and incentives, may help to overcome specific challenges.

In a broader context, we propose that less emphases on strict applications of principles and on stand structures might provide additional flexibility and facilitate the adoption of alternative silvicultural regimes in a broader set of circumstances. At the same time, the acceptance of alternative silvicultural systems as the “preferred or default mode of management” will necessitate and benefit from the continued development of the scientific basis and valuation of a variety of ecosystem goods and services. This publication is aimed to further the discussion in this context.






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