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Biodiversity or bioenergy: is deadwood conservation an environmental issue for French forest owners?

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Forest owners are confronted with contradictory views on the importance of deadwood. Environmentalists argue that it should be left in the forest to conserve biodiversity, provide a habitat for specific fauna and flora, and maintain soil quality through wood decay. Conversely, industrial stakeholders, and some public decision makers, advocate harvesting deadwood. Based on a sociological survey and qualitative interviews, we first analyzed the detailed environmental opinions and values of four groups of French foresters as well as their attitudes towards biodiversity, in particular regarding deadwood conservation. We identified various types of attitudes towards deadwood, which could be seen as waste, an unprofitable by-product, a meaningless entity, or a key part of the ecosystem. We then studied the arguments leading them to choose between deadwood conservation and deadwood harvesting for bioenergy production. On one hand, foresters are interested in short-term profitability and pest control, while others fear potential loss of fertility. Finally, the article shows that specific approaches to deadwood conservation ought to be negotiated at a local scale, pending further scientific investigation into the impact of deadwood on biodiversity and the development of more positive attitudes toward ecological concerns in the forest owners’ community.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 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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