Disturbances such as forest fire, insect outbreak, windthrow, and the subsequent forest development, generate structural and compositional diversity, two aspects critical for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. It has been proposed that when management maintains or recreates conditions found in forests subject to natural disturbance regimes, then it will be possible to maintain most species since the species present should be adapted to the habitats and conditions created by the dominant natural disturbances. This principle provides a practical guide for ecosystem management approaches that are based on emulating natural disturbances. In a world of rapid changes, reducing one of the anthropogenically induced stress factors may be crucial for the long-term viability of many species. Due to structuring forests at both stand and landscape scales, forest fires and insect outbreaks have been principal disturbance agents considered in designing forested landscapes. Crown fires initially produce large areas of relatively homogenous forest conditions in terms of composition and age-class structure. However, when large fires are infrequent, forest structure is controlled by single tree or small tree group mortality. Such forests are characterised by heterogeneous canopy conditions and a mosaic of small forest units at different stages of development.
Based on the premise that forest species are adapted to the natural disturbances characteristic in their particular habitat, the following questions should be answered to ensure that management recreates the conditions necessary to maintain biodiversity and ecological processes: Do forestry practices create conditions beyond the range of the natural variability found in unmanaged forests? Do forestry practices recreate the complete range of conditions observed naturally? How can forestry practices be modified to minimise these differences?
In this thematic series we will use examples (from selected forest regions in the Southern and Northern hermispheres) that describe the global variability in natural forest ecosystem dynamics as shaped by natural disturbances, identify differences between natural systems and managed forests, and subsequently, propose guidelines to develop forestry practices that are near-natural.
You are welcome to submit your recent review or research findings on the theme of "Maintaining Forest Ecosystem Functions and essential Services through Ecosystem Management". The final publication will be subjected to standard peer review.
The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2017. To submit your manuscript, please use our online submission system, and indicate in your cover letter that you would like the manuscript to be considered for this thematic series.
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Canada
University of Helsinki, Finland