Harnessing forest ecological sciences in the service of stewardship and sustainability A perspective from ‘down-under’

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Ecology and Biodiversity
TitleHarnessing forest ecological sciences in the service of stewardship and sustainability A perspective from ‘down-under’
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsP, A, Adams, MA
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Pagination1636 - 1645
Date Published11/2008
AbstractAustralia's native forests are predominantly Crown land, managed by the States. Regional Forest Agreements between four of the States and the Federal Government (1997–2001) resulted in a 36% increase in the area of conservation reserves and a 15% decrease in area of multiple-use (including timber harvesting) forests. The limited acceptance of timber harvesting in native forests, together with the rapid expansion of hardwood plantations, has diverted research focus away from native forests. Recent events including a prolonged drought and two forest fires totaling more than 3 million ha should have stimulated research in native forests on the effects of fire on ecosystem processes, on the management of fire and on management of water catchments; fires, far more than logging, are shaping our native forests in recent times. In particular, the use of prescribed fire to reduce fuels has decreased. We argue that Australian research effort in native eucalypt forests is lacking in two key areas – the effects of fire on carbon storage in forests and soils, and on the management of water yield from forested catchments. The results of forest research are variously published in the scientific journals, and increasingly in consultancy reports to governments or a to a range of organizations and industries. The question of who does the harnessing of knowledge coming from the science of forest ecology is compounded by constant changes in both political and management arrangements. If forest science is to assume a greater role in politics and forest management in Australia, scientists must enter the foray, using the fighting words of politics rather than maintaining the protective mantle of neutrality. With research in native forests being continually downgraded at both State and Federal levels, we take a somewhat less than optimistic view about how well ecological sciences will be harnessed in the service of forest stewardship and sustainability in Australia.
Short TitleForest Ecology and Management
Refereed DesignationRefereed