Contemporary Concerns

The fears of scarcity and depletion of forest resources that gave rise to forest science are cyclical. They also vary geographically and culturally. In affluent countries, some people are as concerned about nonconsumptive resources, like landscape aesthetics and biodiversity, as they are with wood supplies. Scotland's first national park (see Case study 1) offers a case of a visual forest management objective and its effect on silvicultural and harvest

Case Study 1 Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland

Scotland's first national park was officially opened by Princess Anne in July 2002. The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park encompasses around 1865 km2 of some of the finest scenery in Scotland. More than 70% of Scotland's population lives less than an hour's travel time from the park. It is estimated that 3.2 million people visit the park every year, and 15 600 live within the park boundary, so managing the forested landscape for aesthetic views (see Figure 1) and recreation is a priority.

Figure 1 Scottish landscape showing diversity of vegetation patterns.

Within the park, the Cowal and Trossachs Forest District occupies an area of 66 000 ha. This part of west-central Scotland has a predominately temperate climate, receiving annual rates of precipitation of between 3600 mm in the west and 1520 mm in the east, with mean annual temperatures of 8.5 °C. Most of the natural oak woodland vegetation has been replaced with plantations of commercially managed conifer forests, which contain both native (i.e., Pinus sylvestris) and non-native tree species (e.g., Picea sitchensis, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Larix decidua). Most plantations were established between 1942 and 1971, following a time of intense forest depletion from the late 1800s through World War I.

Within the Cowal and Trossachs Forest District, the Achray forest is dominated by European larch (Larix deciduas). Most were planted around 1939. It has been managed by using a low-thinning management regime typically practiced from age 20 years onward. This involves removing 70% of the tree maximum annual increment at 5-7 year intervals. Timber production is the main management objective for these stands, but since they lie within the park landscape, visual maintenance and the quality of visitor experience are also important. The Achray forest is visited by 140 000 visitors per year, according to the David Marshal Lodge visitor center. This stimulated a move away from the traditional silvicultural system of clearcutting stands at optimum age, toward a system that will maintain a continuous cover of trees in the landscape. Managers are now trying to use systems that mimic ecological forest processes of stand disturbance and natural recruitment of seedlings.

Forest soils in the area are nutrient rich, well-drained upland brown earths, which support vegetation-rich swards where light levels permit. This sward develops beneath the larch stands and then becomes one of the main barriers to natural recruitment of seedlings. Slopes are relatively steep and preclude the use of machinery for harvesting and extraction; manually felling with chain saws and cable crane extraction are the preferred operation. All management operations conform to the United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS) standard and are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified (see Case study 3 for details on the FSC).

Most large dimension timber goes to local sawmills within an 80.47 km radius of the forest. Smaller material is used for pallet production and is taken to a medium-density fiberboard mill within 40.23 km. Local markets place a financial penalty on noncertified timber.

By Colin Edwards systems. Elsewhere in Europe and North America, single-species forests are being converted to species mixtures and managed for the structural or compositional diversity associated with naturally regenerated forests. Various terms are used to describe this trend, including continuous-cover forestry, ecosystem management, and close-to-nature forestry. In less-affluent countries, many people still use wood for cooking and heating and rely on both natural and planted forests for food, fuelwood, and construction materials. Planted forests, or plantations, also yield wood for industrial use and international trade. The contribution of plantations to the social, ecological, and economic conditions of a site are subject to ongoing study and debate. Some cultures rely on forests to yield nuts, resins, latex, sap, poisons, cork, fiber, fungi, fruits, spices, honey, herbs, drugs, dyes, tannins, bamboo, and rattan (see Figure 2). The study of how humans use plants is the focus of economic botany or ethnobotany.

There is growing global awareness that our human population is increasing and many resources, like fossil fuels, are limited. Forests have a finite ability to meet competing demands placed upon them, but many forest resources are renewable, as long as soil fertility is not depleted or conversion to another land use does not occur. Indeed, as a case study of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation illustrates (see Case study 2) many attributes offorests are available for use in perpetuity ifthe basis for their existence is not jeopardized, either by the methods used to extract them or the amount that is removed.

Humans benefit from forests on scales ranging from global (carbon and oxygen cycles) to local (hunting and recreation). The goods and services people want from forests vary by culture and demand for them varies with population density, per capita income and wealth distribution, and access to land. The reasons for managing

Figure 2 Nontimber forest products for sale in a market on Pulau Laut, an island southeast of Indonesian Borneo.

forests change, and the pool of knowledge and types of technology with which to do so accumulate over time. However, the basic management techniques change little; they always involve securing the conditions in which a tree seedling can grow.

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