Sustaining Forest Goods and Services In a Time Of Change: The Role Of Harvest Gaps In Northern Temperate Forest Regeneration and Diversity
Thursday, August 8, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
101F, Minneapolis Convention Center
Christel C. Kern
Julia I. Burton
Michael B. Walters
Although sustainable forest management has been a goal of silviculture for decades, the quest for such practices continues to be of high relevance nationally and internationally. At the global level, the United Nations named 2011 the International Year of Forests to bolster sustainable forest management worldwide. In North America, the National Report on Sustainability of U.S. Forests, just published in 2011, highlighted the need for further research, development, and application of sustainable forest management in the U.S. Changing climate and natural disturbance patterns, exotic species, ungulate herbivory, forest fragmentation and fragmentation, etc. continue to challenge conventional approaches to forest management, compelling practioners to seek sustainable management alternatives.
Developing sustainable forest management practices for northern temperate forests, and more broadly multi-aged, mixed species forests, pose a significant management challenge. Over the past century, these forests have experienced significant diversity losses and, more recently, regeneration failures. To overcome this problem, historical and contemporary reference conditions as well as ecological theory, such as gap dynamics, provide a scientific framework to design sustainable management solutions. As such, conventional wisdom suggests that medium to large harvest gaps can be incorporated into light, partial harvests to increase the diversity of these forests. Yet, empirical data to support this idea are limited, especially in areas of elevated deer populations.
This session examines the role of harvest gaps in tree regeneration and plant diversity and the efficacy of harvest gaps as a mechanism for the sustainable management of forest goods and services. Our goal is to produce a conceptual framework on tree regeneration and plant diversity response to harvest gap size, age, and structure by bringing together recent findings from harvest gap-centered research in northern temperate forests. The session will challenge conventional wisdom and more broadly highlight the tradeoffs that may occur between commodity focused objectives and sustainability of other ecosystem services. In addition, it will provide the synergy for a collaborative publication on harvest gaps of multi-aged, mixed species forests and general management recommendations for northern temperate forests.