Plantation forests provide about 35% of the global industrial wood supply and are expected to increase as demand for wood increases. These forests can be quite beneficial because they produce a steady supply of a lot of wood, providing for human needs and reducing harvesting pressure on other forest land. However, intensive forest management has important ecosystem impacts that need to be well-understood so that we can make informed decisions about balancing the need for a high yield of wood and maintaining forest biodiversity.
When natural forests are disturbed by fire, windthrow, ice storms, or tree harvesting, a rich habitat full of shrubs and forbs usually develops. This stage, called “early seral,” can provide breeding and foraging habitat for many species. After a clearcut, sites are carefully planted and herbicided to ensure that a new forest will grow quickly. This practice means that early seral habitat is not very common across landscapes where much of the land is in intensive forest management.
Our research seeks to understand how forested landscapes can be managed for biodiversity conservation while sustaining high-levels of timber production.