Adapting the Management of Mountain Forests to New Environmental Conditions
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Summary (4 min read)
- The International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions was initiated by the Government of Switzerland, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the Government of Italy, and the Mountain Forum (MF) during the International Year of Mountains 2002 (IYM2002).
- Activities so far in 2003 have included several meetings in Switzerland, an e-consultation moderated by the MF, and a side event at the meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-11) in New York.
- To date, more than 75 countries, intergovernmental organizations, and major groups have joined the IPSDMR.
- Several representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations participated in the debate session following the plenary session, to complete the first day’s work.
- One important theme in this respect was the possibility of establishing goals similar to the UN Millennium Goals (cutting poverty in mountain areas by one half, providing payment for environmental services in mountains, ensuring greater upstream– downstream equity, etc.).
- In addition, Afghan Environment Minister Ahmad Nuristani made a plea for development work in his war-torn country.
- The final plenary session consisted of a Chairman’s summary given by Gabriel Campbell, a brief debate, and a final Adoption of Conference Conclusions.
First Global Meeting of Members in Merano, Italy, 5–6 October 2003
- Members agreed to promote the Partnership’s innovative, transparent, flexible, participatory, and dynamic character and to pursue the objective of fostering actions at all levels to protect mountain environments and support mountain livelihoods through the integration of the environmental, economic and social components of sustainable mountain development.
- Participants mandated the existing open-ended Task Force established to prepare the Merano meeting to work toward complete establishment of the Partnership, and to report to the members by the next meeting of the CSD.
Research and Development’s
- Commitment The First Global Meeting confirmed and officially established the Partnership.
- Mountain Research and Development (MRD), represented at the First Global Meeting by its managing editor, expects to be an active member of the Partnership.
- Intergovernmental action to protect forests in Europe Four conferences of the European Ministers of Forestry have addressed the role of forests as an important economic factor to date, stressing their significant contribution in protecting human settlements and infrastructure against natural hazards and providing benefits such as recreation and preservation of ecological diversity.
- Thus, it was very important for Austria that the ministers agreed in Lis- MountainNotes Adapting the Management of Mountain Forests to New Environmental Conditions Research Results and Needs in Austria, Presented in April 2003 in Vienna Theodore Wachs Managing Editor, Mountain Research and Development, Centre for Development and Environment, Steigerhubelstrasse 3, 3008 Berne, Switzerland.
- Production of ecological maps at the valley and catchment level including data on environment and risks Table 1 summarizes the available national and regional maps of environmental and risk factors.
Management of High-Mountain Forests in the Western Carpathians, Slovak Republic: Research Results and Perspectives
- Nov 2003 pean beech, mountain ash, and individual stands of dense mountain pine.
- Silver fir, cembra pine, and sycamore maple can also be found.
- The most frequent foresttype groups (original species composition before human influence) are Sorbeto-Piceetum (mountain ash-spruce) and Lariceto-Piceetum (larch-spruce).
Main problems in the SVZ
- Research into forest ecosystems in the SVZ (also referred to as highmountain forests) has mainly focused on the decreasing health of trees.
- Monitoring of forest health in certain areas within the SVZ showed that about 90% of SVZ forest can be considered to be affected by air pollution.
- Furthermore, a significant decrease of soil pH values was recorded (0.5–1.0 unit since the 1960s).
- Formerly, the Slovak high-mountain forests were considered to have sufficient precipitation and favorable soil moisture.
- All these factors cause weakening or even collapse of forest ecosystems.
Recent research efforts
- Studies located mainly in the Tatra National Park have explored the possibilities of restoration (through reforestation) of mountain pine stands that had been reduced by livestock grazing in previous centuries.
- Further research has focused on reclamation measures such as liming and fertilizing in spruce forests weakened by air pollution or other agents.
- Since 1999, a 4-year research project at the Zvolen Forest Research Institute has been studying methods for high-mountain forest management based on principles of sustainable development.
Basic management decisions
- Basic decisions in the Slovak forest management practice concern forest category (commercial, protective, special purposes), silvicultural system (clear-cutting, shelterwood, selective cutting), rotation, and regeneration period.
- Basic decisions were elaborated for 3 classes— primeval, natural, and man-made forests—that reflect the intensity of human influence on the forest ecosystems (Table 1).
- Desired tree species composition Both in the original and in current high-mountain forests, Norway spruce is the dominant species.
- It tolerates the harsh living conditions in the SVZ better than all other species.
- Other species have been proposed depending on the site and climatic conditions, with the main aim of ensuring the forests’ public-benefit functions.
Desired stand structure
- The threshold values of selected indicators for desired stand structure were derived from data collected on research plots classified in the first class (primeval forest).
- They characterize the most original SVZ forest stands and were therefore considered as a benchmark for the desired stand structure.
- Primeval forests have 3 development stages— growth, maturity, and decline— characterized by adjusted average values of the following indicators: degree of diameter dispersion (to assess tree diameter variability); share of canopy level (to assess tree height variability); ratio between crown length and tree height, and tree height and tree diameter; and mosaic of stand clusters.
- It will not be possible to reach the desired stand structure even in the next generation because of large areas of artificially formed stands where management has been neglected.
- The characteristics of a realistic target stand structure were therefore derived from the data representing the second degree of naturalness (natural forest).
- Target stocking was derived on the basis of an original procedure that takes into account requirements related to soil and water protection, stability, and natural regeneration.
- Relationships between stocking, indicators of stability, and preconditions for natural regeneration were analyzed.
- Combining these aspects, the value of 0.7 (0.6 at the upper forest limit) proved optimal for stand stocking.
- To achieve this goal, functionally effective stand structures need to be formed.
- The more the stand structure approaches the status of primeval or natural forests, the better these forests are able to develop through internal self-regulating processes.
- Restoration or improvement of the self-regulating abilities of these forests also has great economic significance: the higher the forest’s self-regulating ability, the fewer the management interventions that will be needed and the more effective the performance of forests’ public-benefit functions.
- The authors propose to plan and carry out any measures in these forests only on the basis of their actual “naturalness” class, which has to be the decisive criterion for determining the urgency of proposed measures.
- Additional criteria should include an assessment of static stability, natural regeneration, health condition, and stocking, as an indicator of fulfillment of ecological functions (mainly soil and water protection).
- Basically, it can be stated that the forest stands classified in the first “naturalness” class can be left as is.
- In such stands, natural regeneration usually fully corresponds to the actual stand structure, and both static stability and health condition are excellent.
- These measures can be classified according to the degree of urgency, based on the forest’s actual status.
Perspectives for the future
- Better management of high-mountain forests will require building a comprehensive net of forestry roads that are ecologically adapted to the terrain.
- It will be necessary to adapt all forestry activities in high-moun- tain forests to ecological standards and to introduce the most recent techniques and technologies.
- Clearcutting is forbidden in the SVZ and has been fully replaced by shelterwood and selection systems.
- On certain sites tree species diversity will be enhanced by planting desired tree species.
- The conference on “Conservation of Himalayan Biodiversity for Human Welfare” drew international attention to conservation and sustainable management and use of biological resources.
- The conference brought together various related aspects such as education, research, development, policy, production, processing, marketing, economics, energy, and environment and established an International Network for the Conservation of Himalayan Biodiversity in the Himalayan region.
- The following major topics were covered: Himalayan Flora and Fauna; Biodiversity Conservation; Indigenous.
26 February 2003–28 February 2003, Kathmandu
- The Himalayan region is the largest, highest, and most populous mountain chain in the world, and it is one of the world’s richest ecosystems in terms of biological diversity.
- Extreme variations in altitude, aspect, geology, and soils over short distances have resulted in a wealth of natural ecosystems.
- These rich biological resources have traditionally served as the foundation for the economic and cultural life of mountain people.
- The specific objectives of the conference were to: 1. Identify the major issues and options in biodiversity conservation in the Himalayan region.
- Share ideas on recent biodiversity conservation and management approaches.
The need for research and action
- The conference was attended by more than 200 research scientists, technical specialists, and resource managers involved in various issues related to Himalayan biodiversity, representing more than 50 national and international organizations.
- Degradation and loss of biological diversity are at high levels.
- This conference strongly recommends the creation of a Himalayan Biodiversity Database for the long-term research and monitoring of natural resources for sustainable development, including human dimensions.
- The theme of “Benefits Beyond Boundaries” attracted around 3000 participants from all over the world who are concerned with Protected Areas issues.
- Sixty mountain women and men from 23 countries participated in the Workshop.
Some Mountain Action at the World Parks Congress in Durban
- Lawrence S. Hamilton Vice-Chair , World Commission on Protected Areas/IUCN, 342 Bittersweet Lane, Charlotte, Vermont 05445, USA.
- Provide a forum to discuss and advance transboundary protected areas in contributing to the conservation of regional biodiversity, recognizing the special circumstances of transboundary mountain communities, and resolving regional conflicts through mechanisms such as Peace Parks.
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