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Natural disturbance emulation in boreal forest ecosystem management¬†— theories, strategies, and a comparison with conventional even-aged management

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Natural disturbance emulation (NDE) has been proposed as a general approach to ecologically sustainable forest management. We reviewed the concepts, theories, and strategies related to NDE in boreal forest management. We also reviewed publications that discussed NDE in the boreal forest in general and those that specifically compared NDE-based management with conventional even-aged management. The papers generally focused on northern North America and landscape-scale wildfire as the main disturbance factor, whereas information from Eurasia was exclusively theoretical. Within this limited scope, NDE was generally found to have a positive effect on biodiversity in terms of forest structure and species diversity when compared with conventional even-aged management. Studies on timber supply and social implications of NDE were so few that they preclude generalizations. We conclude that the ecological and economic performance of NDE as a management approach still remains poorly examined. To advance the development of NDE, particular attention should be given to (1) augmenting the knowledge base on natural range of variability of unmanaged forest ecosystems and evaluating the validity of this information in a changing climate, (2) fostering multidisciplinary research with better integration of ecological theory to both integrative and analytical research on NDE, and (3) better integration of socioeconomic concerns, adaptive management schemes, and international collaboration into NDE initiatives.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2012

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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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