Managed Forests and Conservation of Terrestrial Biodiversity in the Southern United States
The southern United States has significant area in managed pine (Pinus spp.) stands that contribute to terrestrial biodiversity via maintenance of forested areas, varied silvicultural practices resulting in diverse plant communities, stands in multiple successional stages interspersed with mature natural forests, and reduction of pressure on natural forests for wood products. However, conservation value of managed forests is dependent on factors such as product target, landscape context, management intensity, rotation length, stocking density, and ownership philosophy. Potential limitations include loss of natural forests, reduction in dead wood, constraints on stand structure, age and size of plantation trees, and economic pressure to increase management intensity. We recommend that landowners develop plans, including metrics for gauging progress, to cost-effectively manage for biological diversity within working forests and communicate outcomes to stakeholders. Forest certification systems offer a formalized approach for meeting biodiversity goals and demonstrating accomplishments.
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