Current issue: 52(5)
Under compilation: 53(1)
Land degradation is widespread and a serious threat affecting the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people worldwide of which one sixth or 250 million people reside in drylands. Globally, it is estimated that 10–20% of drylands are already degraded and about 12 million ha are degraded each year. Driven by unsustainable land use practices, adverse climatic conditions and population increase, land degradation has led to decline in provision of ecosystem services, food insecurity, social and political instability and reduction in the ecosystem’s resilience to natural climate variability. Several global initiatives have been launched to combat land degradation, including rehabilitation of degraded drylands. This review aimed at collating the current state-of-knowledge about rehabilitation of degraded drylands. It was found that the prospect of restoring degraded drylands is technically promising using a suite of passive (e.g. area exclosure, assisted natural regeneration, rotational grazing) and active (e.g. mixed-species planting, framework species, maximum diversity, and use of nurse tree) rehabilitation measures. Advances in soil reclamation using biological, chemical and physical measures have been made. Despite technical advances, the scale of rehabilitation intervention is small and lacks holistic approach. Development of process-based models that forecast outcomes of the various rehabilitation activities will be useful tools for researchers and practitioners. The concept of forest landscape restoration approach, which operates at landscape-level, could also be adopted as the overarching framework for rehabilitation of degraded dryland ecosystems. The review identified a data gap in cost-benefit analysis of rehabilitation interventions. However, the cost of rehabilitation and sustainable management of drylands is opined to be lower than the losses that accrue from inaction, depending on the degree of degradation. Thus, local communities’ participation, incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge, clear division of tasks and benefits, strengthening local institutions are crucial not only for cost-sharing, but also for the long-term success of rehabilitation activities.
The Nordic and Baltic countries are in the frontline of replacing fossil fuel with renewables. An important question is how forest management of the productive parts of this region can support a sustainable development of our societies in reaching low or carbon neutral conditions by 2050. This may involve a 70% increased consumption of biomass and waste to meet the goals. The present review concludes that a 50–100% increase of forest growth at the stand scale, relative to today’s common level of forest productivity, is a realistic estimate within a stand rotation (~70 years). Change of tree species, including the use of non-native species, tree breeding, introduction of high-productive systems with the opportunity to use nurse crops, fertilization and afforestation are powerful elements in an implementation and utilization of the potential. The productive forests of the Nordic and Baltic countries cover in total 63 million hectares, which corresponds to an average 51% land cover. The annual growth is 287 million m3 and the annual average harvest is 189 million m3 (65% of the growth). A short-term increase of wood-based bioenergy by utilizing more of the growth is estimated to be between 236 and 416 TWh depending on legislative and operational restrictions. Balanced priorities of forest functions and management aims such as nature conservation, biodiversity, recreation, game management, ground water protection etc. all need consideration. We believe that these aims may be combined at the landscape level in ways that do not conflict with the goals of reaching higher forest productivity and biomass production.
Changes in the structure and development of managed Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stands with respect to changing environmental conditions were set for the period 1979–2015. The study was conducted in conditions of natural pinewoods and pine-oak sites on five permanent research plots (0.25 ha) in Eastern Bohemia, Czech Republic (CR). Studied forest stands showed positive development of stand structural characteristics related to their diversity, number of regeneration individuals and growth characteristics. The standing volume of regularly distributed tree layer in 2015 was in the range of 320–434 m3 ha–1, which indicates an increase by 5.9–20.0% over 10 years. Correlation between pine radial increment and the amount of precipitation was generally the strongest one. Positive statistically significant correlation between diameter increment and temperature was demonstrated only for the average March temperature of the current year. Within the CR, study site can be characterised as a medium polluted area both for sulphur and nitrogen, despite this SO2 concentrations and N deposition in combination with extreme climate events caused severe defoliation in pine stands. Conversely, radial growth was positively significantly correlated with mean NOx concentrations. Drought mainly in combination with even medium environmental pollution can further worsen the health status of pine stands in lowland areas of Central Europe. Thus, formulation of silvicultural techniques able to mitigate the impact of these stress factors is needed.
Models attempting to predict treeline shifts in changing climates must include the relevant ecological processes in sufficient detail. A previous correlative model study has pointed to nutrients, competition, and temperature as the most important factors shaping the treelines of Pinus sylvestris L., Picea abies (L.) H. Karst. and Betula pubescens Ehrh. in Finnish Lapland. Here, we applied a widely used process-based dynamic vegetation model (LPJ-GUESS) to (i) test its capability to simulate observed spatial and temporal patterns of the main tree species in Finnish Lapland, and (ii) to explore the model representation of important processes in order to guide further model development. A European parameterization of LPJ-GUESS overestimated especially P. abies biomass and the species’ northern range limit. We identified implemented processes to adjust (competition, disturbance) and crucial processes in boreal forests to include (nutrient limitation, forest management) which account for the model’s failure to (edaphically) restrict P. abies in Finnish Lapland and the resulting species imbalance. Key competitive mechanisms are shade and drought tolerance, nutrient limitation, fire resistance, and susceptibility to disturbances (storm, herbivory) which we discussed with respect to boreal ecology and promising model developments to provide a starting point for future model development.