Forests2014, 5(12), 2947-2966; doi:10.3390/f5122947 - published 25 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Pinus massoniana forests bordering South China are often affected by wildfires. Fires cause major changes in soil properties in many forest types but little is known about the effects of fire on soil properties in these P. massoniana forests. Such knowledge is important for providing a comprehensive understanding of wildfire effects on soil patterns and for planning appropriate long-term forest management in these forests. Changes in soil physical properties, carbon, nutrients, and enzymeswere investigated in a P. massoniana forest along a wildfire-induced time span consisting of an unburned soil, and soils 0, one, four, and seven years post-fire. Soil (0–10 cm) was collected from burned and unburned sites immediately and one, four, and seven years after a wildfire. The wildfire effects on soil physical and chemical properties and enzyme activities were significantly different among treatment variation, time variation, and treatment-by-time interaction. Significant short-term effects on soil physical, chemical, and biological properties were found, which resulted in a deterioration of soil physical properties by increasing soil bulk density and decreasing macropores and capillary moisture. Soil pH increased significantly in the soil one-year post-fire. Carbon, total nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and available N and P increased significantly immediatelyandone year after the wildfire and decreased progressively to concentrations lower than in the unburned soil. Total potassium (K) and exchangeable K increased immediatelyafter the wildfire and then continuously decreased along the burned time-span. Urease, acid phosphatase, and catalase activities significantly decreased compared to those in the unburned soil. In fire-prone P. massoniana forests, wildfires may significantly influence soil physical properties, carbon, nutrients, and enzyme activity.
Forests2014, 5(11), 2929-2946; doi:10.3390/f5112929 - published 24 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The paper presents the results of a study on tree regeneration of forest stands in the Černý důl Nature Reserve, which is situated in the Orlické hory Mountains Protected Landscape area in the Czech Republic. Research was conducted in a spruce-beech stand with an admixture of silver fir, sycamore maple and rowan on two comparative permanent research plots (PRPs) (PRP 1—fenced enclosure and PRP 2—unfenced). Typological, soil, phytosociological and stand characteristics of the two PRPs are similar. The results showed that ungulate browsing is a limiting factor for successful development of natural regeneration of autochthonous tree species. The population of tree species of natural regeneration on the fenced plot (PRP 1) is sufficient in relation to the site and stand conditions. However, natural regeneration on PRP 2 is considerably limited by browsing. Damage is greatest to fir, sycamore maple and rowan; less severe to beech; and the least to spruce.
Forests2014, 5(11), 2905-2928; doi:10.3390/f5112905 - published 24 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Ongoing climate change is likely to result in shifts in successional dynamics in boreal mixedwood stands. Using data from provincial forest inventory databases, we examined the occurrence and abundance of the regeneration of various coniferous species (white spruce, black spruce and balsam fir) along an east-west Canadian gradient in aspen-dominated stands. The interpretation of the results was based on environmental conditions, including climate, natural fire regime and human impacts. We found that conifer regeneration was present in aspen stands along the entire gradient, despite differences in climatic conditions and fire regimes between the west (warmer and drier, with large recurrent fires) and east (more humid with relatively long fire cycles). However, abundance and distribution varied from one conifer species to the next. The abundance of white spruce decreased towards the eastern end of the longitudinal gradient, while balsam fir and black spruce abundance decreased towards the west. Although abundance decreased, balsam fir and black spruce regeneration was still present in western Canada. This study shows that it is difficult to interpret the effects of climate change on conifer recruitment without accounting for the superimposed effects of human activities.
Forests2014, 5(11), 2882-2904; doi:10.3390/f5112882 - published 24 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Tree species in mountainous areas are expected to shift their distribution upward in elevation in response to climate change, calling for a potential redesign of existing protected areas. This study aims to predict whether or not the distributions of two high-mountain tree species, Abies (Abies kawakamii) and Tsuga (Tsuga chinensis var. formosana), will significantly shift upward due to temperature change, and whether current protected areas will be suitable for conserving these species. Future temperature change was projected for 15 different future scenarios produced from five global climate models. Shifts in Abies and Tsuga distributions were then predicted through the use of species distribution models (SDMs) which included occurrence data of Abies and Tsuga, as well as seasonal temperature, and elevation. The 25 km × 25 km downscaled General Circulation Model (GCMs) data for 2020–2039 produced by the Taiwan Climate Change Projection and Information Platform was adopted in this study. Habitat suitability in the study area was calculated using maximum entropy model under different climatic scenarios. A bootstrap method was applied to assess the parameter uncertainty of the maximum entropy model. In comparison to the baseline projection, we found that there are significant differences in suitable habitat distributions for Abies and Tsuga under seven of the 15 scenarios. The results suggest that mountainous ecosystems will be substantially impacted by climate change. We also found that the uncertainty originating from GCMs and the parameters of the SDM contribute most to the overall level of variability in species distributions. Finally, based on the uncertainty analysis and the shift in habitat suitability, we applied systematic conservation planning approaches to identify suitable areas to add to Taiwan’s protected area network.
Forests2014, 5(11), 2865-2881; doi:10.3390/f5112865 - published 24 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A methodological characteristic of the REDD+ scheme is that it attempts to reduce deforestation by rewarding communities that change problematic land use practices. This has led to discussions on benefit sharing. This article focuses on incentives for alternative land use practices among village members living in frontier areas, especially in relation to support for sustainable land use and people’s livelihoods, and clarifies the issues that REDD+ projects are likely to face in this context. Although some documents regarding REDD+ projects have mentioned support to encourage such incentives, insufficient consideration has been given to the realities of the changes in frontier communities. REDD+ projects are unlikely to motivate members to embrace alternative land use practices if support or benefit sharing does not match members’ expectations. Here, we examine the changes in household (HH) income and structure, as well as in livelihood activities, experienced by Cambodian frontier villagers living at the site of a planned REDD+ project. During the nine years compared in this study, the frontier villages experienced broad and imbalanced changes in HH income owing to the rapid expansion of the cultivation of cash crops. Our results indicate that benefit sharing or support inevitably becomes more difficult and challenging in frontier areas than in areas where subsistence production systems still predominate, although such frontiers could, in theory, yield maximum returns with regard to forest carbon balance if the REDD+ projects addressed benefit sharing and support and came to fruition.
Forests2014, 5(11), 2846-2864; doi:10.3390/f5112846 - published 24 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In Poland, 82% of forests are State-owned, and only 17% of forests constitute private property. Each year, forests are converted to other land-use types, mainly for road construction. The afforestation rate on privately-owned low-productivity land is decreasing steadily. The owners and perpetual usufructuaries of this kind of land are eligible to government subsidies to cover establishment expenditures in whole or in part, provided that the afforestation scheme complies with the local zoning plan or an outline planning permission. The above creates a dilemma for farmers—is this a profitable option of managing low-productivity land? Owners of small farms particularly often face such dilemmas. Owners of small farms, which consist of low-yield agricultural land, can be regarded as investors operating on the real estate market, but those investors have features characteristic of agricultural producers. This study relied on the net present value (NPV) criterion, which is popularly used to assess the effectiveness of investments on the real estate market. A financial feasibility assessment performed with the use of such method in view of afforestation statistics and the 5% discount rate on the Polish forest market revealed the highest increase in net cumulative cash flows in the first five years, followed by a gradual decrease in successive years. The first negative cash flow was reported in year 20. NPV would remain negative because farmers would be charged with periodic maintenance expenditures until the stand reaches harvestable age at approximately 40 years. The longer the investment period, the lower the profits, even if discount rate is excluded. Investments of the type are difficult to terminate because forests younger than 20 years are difficult to sell at a price that covers growing outflows. Afforestation projects are also influenced by other economic and non-economic factors. The paper validates the research hypothesis that afforestation is a long-term investment that delivers benefits for future generations.