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Forests 2016, 7(2), 37; doi:10.3390/f7020037

Potential for Hybrid Poplar Riparian Buffers to Provide Ecosystem Services in Three Watersheds with Contrasting Agricultural Land Use

1
Fiducie de recherche sur la forêt des Cantons-de-l’Est/Eastern Townships Forest Research Trust, 1 rue Principale, St-Benoît-du-Lac, QC J0B 2M0, Canada
2
Department of Biology, University of Regina, 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK S4S 0A2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Damian C. Adams
Received: 30 October 2015 / Revised: 23 December 2015 / Accepted: 21 January 2016 / Published: 4 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services from Forests)
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Abstract

In temperate agricultural watersheds, the rehabilitation of tree vegetation in degraded riparian zones can provide many ecosystem services. This study evaluated ecosystem service provision potential following the conversion of non-managed herbaceous buffers to hybrid poplar (Populus spp.) buffers in three watersheds (555–771 km2) of southern Québec (Canada), with contrasting agricultural land uses. To extrapolate services at the watershed level, total stream length where hybrid poplars could be established was calculated using GIS data from hydrological and land cover maps. After nine years, a 100% replacement of herbaceous buffers by hybrid poplar buffers along farm streams could lead to the production of 5280–76,151 tons of whole tree (stems + branches) biomass, which could heat 0.5–6.5 ha of greenhouses for nine years, with the potential of displacing 2–29 million litres of fuel oil. Alternatively, the production of 3887–56,135 tons of stem biomass (fuelwood) could heat 55–794 new farmhouses or 40–577 old farmhouses for nine years. Producing fuelwood in buffers rather than in farm woodlots could create forest conservation opportunities on 300–4553 ha. Replacing all herbaceous buffers by poplar buffers could provide potential storage of 2984–42,132 t C, 29–442 t N and 3–56 t P in plant biomass, if woody biomass is not harvested. The greatest potential for services provision was in the Pike River watershed where agriculture is the dominant land use. A review of the potential services of poplar buffers is made, and guidelines for managing services and disservices are provided. View Full-Text
Keywords: multifunctional agroforestry; biomass bioenergy; woodlot biodiversity conservation; carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus storage; fossil fuel displacement; non-point source pollution; stream network; heating value and efficiency; novel ecosystems; Magog, Eaton and Pike Rivers multifunctional agroforestry; biomass bioenergy; woodlot biodiversity conservation; carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus storage; fossil fuel displacement; non-point source pollution; stream network; heating value and efficiency; novel ecosystems; Magog, Eaton and Pike Rivers
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Fortier, J.; Truax, B.; Gagnon, D.; Lambert, F. Potential for Hybrid Poplar Riparian Buffers to Provide Ecosystem Services in Three Watersheds with Contrasting Agricultural Land Use. Forests 2016, 7, 37.

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