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Silviculture that sustains: the nexus between silviculture, frequent prescribed fire, and conservation of biodiversity in longleaf pine forests of the southeastern United States

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Abstract:

The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) forest ecosystems of the US southeastern Coastal Plain, among the most biologically diverse ecosystems in North America, originally covered over 24 × 106 ha but now occupy less than 5% of their original extent. The key factor for sustaining their high levels of diversity is the frequent application of prescribed fire uninterrupted in time and space. Pine fuels, critical to application of fire and regulated by canopy distribution, provide the nexus between silviculture and fire management in this system. Typical silvicultural approaches for this type were, in large part, developed to maximize the establishment and growth of regeneration as well as growth and yield of timber, with much less regard to how those practices might influence the ability to sustain prescribed burning regimes or the associated biodiversity. However, many landholdings in the region now include conservation of biodiversity as a primary objective with sustained timber yield as an important but secondary goal. This review synthesizes the literature related to controls of biodiversity for longleaf pine ecosystems, and silvicultural approaches are compared in their ability to sustain natural disturbance such as fire and how closely they mimic the variation, patterns, and processes of natural disturbance regimes while allowing for regeneration.

Les écosystèmes forestiers de pin des marais (Pinus palustris Mill.) de la plaine côtière du sud-est des É.-U., qui sont parmi les écosystèmes les plus biologiquement diversifiés en Amérique du Nord, couvraient à l'origine plus de 24 millions d'hectares mais occupent maintenant moins de 5 % de leur étendue originale. Le facteur clé dans le maintien de leur degré élevé de diversité est l'application fréquente du brûlage dirigé ininterrompu dans le temps et dans l'espace. Les combustibles de pin, essentiels à l'utilisation du feu et régis par la distribution de la canopée, fournissent le lien entre la sylviculture et la gestion du feu dans ce système. Les approches sylvicoles typiques pour ce type de forêt ont été en grande partie développées pour favoriser l'établissement et la croissance de la régénération ainsi que la croissance et le rendement en matière ligneuse sans porter beaucoup d'attention à la façon dont ces pratiques pouvaient influencer la capacité de maintenir un régime de brûlage dirigé ou la biodiversité qui y est associée. Cependant, plusieurs propriétés dans cette région retiennent maintenant la conservation de la biodiversité comme premier objectif avec le rendement soutenu de matière ligneuse en tant que but important mais secondaire. Cet article dresse la synthèse de la littérature reliée au contrôle de la biodiversité dans les écosystèmes de pin des marais et compare les approches sylvicoles en fonction de leur capacité à maintenir les perturbations naturelles comme le feu et du degré de fidélité avec lequel elles reproduisent les variations, les comportements et les processus des régimes de perturbation naturelle tout en tenant compte de la régéneration.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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