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Silvicultural Challenges and Options in the Context of Global Change: “Simple” Fixes and Opportunities for New Management Approaches

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A major challenge for foresters in the future will be issues related to global change. Global change expresses itself in a variety of ways, depending on regional vegetation and climate patterns, small-scale topographic differences, tree species, and stand development stages. Using silviculture as an example, the variety of steps linking global change—as a general concept—and actual management decisions is explored. The first task is to relate global change aspects to silviculturally relevant scales. Second, silvicultural responses must reflect the wide variety of changes, including their interactions. A number of management recommendations have been proposed from the global scale to the application of specific silvicultural treatments. These recommendations are mostly focused on increasing the resistance of forests to perturbations. Increasing ecosystem adaptability and resilience through silvicultural practices may benefit from developments in other scientific fields. Recent advances in the complexity and ecosystem sciences may provide approaches that are better suited for a future with increased variability and uncertainty in ecological and social conditions. Specifically, managing forests as complex adaptive systems may provide a conceptual framework that can be useful for silviculture, even though much work still must be done to fully explore the implications of such a new framework for silvicultural decisionmaking.
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Keywords: adaptability; climate change; complex adaptive systems; global change; invasive species; resilience; silviculture

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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    The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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