Biodiversity in focus for UN delegates and forest researchers

Overview of mixed forest by lake in sunny weather with blue sky. Photo.


Stina Johannesson

Between 7-19 of December governmental and organisational representatives meet at the UN conference COP15 in Montreal, Canada, to negotiate a new framework with biodiversity goals for the land and at sea. Adam Felton and PhD student Jaime Luna are doing research on alternative forest management to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services in production forests.

Adam Felton, researcher at the Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre at SLU and part of the competence centre Trees For Me, thinks there are several issues to deal with in order to retain biodiversity in Swedish forests.

“I think the largest challenges are preventing the loss of high value forests from harvesting, ensuring adequate connectivity between protected areas/remnant habitats nested within an intensively managed landscape and gaining adequate protection and restoration of important forest habitat categories. So more generally, balancing the competing demands for forest biomass harvesting and maintaining adequate habitat for the conservation of forest biodiversity”, Adam Felton says.

Policy and action to be discussed

The Swedish government has set the environmental quality objective of Sustainable Forests which defines that "the value of forests and forest land for biological production must be protected, at the same time as biological diversity and cultural heritage and recreational assets are safeguarded."

The parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meet in Montreal to develop a new strategic plan for biodiversity for the period after 2020. The ambition is that the new plan should contain more measurable goals than before and link more clearly to the Sustainable Development Goals. Adam Felton thinks it's important that the talking turns into action.

“I hope that they achieve their own stated goals for this meeting of the parties. In other words that they manage to implement clear targets for mitigating the primary causes of the biodiversity crisis. One additional goal that I hope they have success with is to influence the direction of finances towards more sustainable investment practices.”

Mixtures and fast-growing broadleaves

Adam Felton and his colleagues have informed hypotheses that the spatial arrangement and mixture of trees in the forest can increase the diversity of forest dependent species, while reducing both harvesting costs and pathogen and pest damage. The hypotheses need to be researched more so that it can be clearly confirmed which mixtures affect the species and ecosystem system services and in what ways.

Adam Felton also leads a research project within the new competence centre Trees For Me, which will focus on the biodiversity implications of fast growing broadleaf trees. Jaime Luna is the PhD student who will work with the project.

“Fast growing broadleaved trees can provide us with a huge amount of raw material in less time than conventional production stands while helping us to diversify the conifer-dominated Swedish landscape. It therefore has potential consequences for both biodiversity and recreational values. However, we know almost nothing about the actual biodiversity implications of these different fast-growing broadleaved trees. Therefore, it is worth to do research and go deep into their potential contribution to biodiversity and gather more knowledge to successfully meet the Swedish environmental goals”, says Jaime Luna.

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