Plantations for Bioenergy: Principles for Maintaining Biodiversity in Intensively Managed Forests

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As the value of forests for providing a feedstock for bioenergy increases, more land will probably be converted to fast-growing tree plantations to increase short-term production of cellulose. In general, plantations support fewer plant and animal species than native forests because plantations are greatly simplified in terms of tree and other plant species richness and in terms of many structural and process-related forest functions. However, native biodiversity can be retained in some plantation forests if careful management is used in all stages of plantation establishment, tending, and harvest. Key considerations for conserving biodiversity as plantation forests grow as a proportion of total world forest cover include choice of plantation tree species, harvest frequency, rotation age, and care and management of biological legacies and forest understory plant and wildlife communities. We provide background and guidance that can be used to guide future plantation management in a new era of using forests to capture and store carbon and to generate bioenergy.

Keywords: bioenergy; carbon; landscape; monoculture; wildlife

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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