Environmental impacts of forest monocultures: water use, acidification, wildlife conservation, and carbon storage

Author: Cannell, M.G.R.

Source: New Forests, Volume 17, Number 1-3, 1999 , pp. 239-262(24)

Publisher: Springer

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A broad assessment is given of the contentions that plantation forests are high consumers of water, increase acidification, sustain a low diversity of wildlife, and store more carbon than do unmanaged forests. The following conclusions are drawn: (1) Evapotranspiration from planted forest monocultures is greater than from short vegetation, as a result of greater interception loss. Water loss from conifer forests is usually greater than from deciduous hardwoods, but evapotranspiration from Eucalyptus in the dry tropics is often no greater than from native hardwoods. (2) Compared to short vegetation, forests can significantly increase the transfer of acidifying pollutants from the air to the soil and surface waters, and conifers are more likely to enhance acidification than are hardwoods. (3) There are normally sufficient plantation management options available to make most plantation landscapes the homes of a rich diversity of flora and fauna. (4) An area covered with a plantation managed for maximum volume yield will normally contain substantially less carbon than the same area of unmanaged forest.

Keywords: planted forests; sustainability

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Edinburgh Research Station, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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