Current issue: 56(2)
Under compilation: 56(3)
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.
Forests in the western United States generally have increased in tree density since Euro-American settlement, particularly through increases in fire-sensitive species, such as spruces, firs, and junipers. Like most areas, the Black Hills region in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming was logged for forest products and underwent agricultural conversion before historical forests were documented. To supplement historical reconstructions and accounts, we compared tree composition and densities (diameters ≥12.7 cm at 1.37 m above ground height) from historical General Land Office (GLO) records (years 1878 to 1915) and current Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) tree surveys (years 2011 to 2016) in the Black Hills Highlands of South Dakota. For composition, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa P. Lawson & C. Lawson) decreased from 95% to 86% of all trees, with a consequent increase specifically of white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) from 1.5% to 6.7% of all trees. Ponderosa pine currently is smaller in mean diameter by 7.4 cm, while white spruce is larger in mean diameter by 2.4 cm than historically. When the 35% of historical survey points without recorded trees were excluded, historical tree densities indicated an overall forested structure of savannas and open woodlands with tree densities ranging from 66 trees ha–1 to 162 trees ha–1. However, historical forests of the Black Hills incorporated dense stands. Tree densities have increased two- to more than four-fold, to 311 trees ha–1 currently. These comparisons provide another source of information, paralleling changes documented in surface fire-dependent pine and oak forests throughout the United States, of transitions in forest composition and structure since Euro-American settlement.