Forests2014, 5(7), 1753-1776; doi:10.3390/f5071753 (doi registration under processing) - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Growing stock volume is an important biophysical parameter describing the state and dynamics of the Boreal zone. Validation of growing stock volume (GSV) maps based on satellite remote sensing is challenging due to the lack of consistent ground reference data. The monitoring and assessment of the remote Russian forest resources of Siberia can only be done by integrating remote sensing techniques and interdisciplinary collaboration. In this paper, we assess the information content of GSV estimates in Central Siberian forests obtained at 25 m from ALOS-PALSAR and 1 km from ENVISAT-ASAR backscatter data. The estimates have been cross-compared with respect to forest inventory data showing 34% relative RMSE for the ASAR-based GSV retrievals and 39.4% for the PALSAR-based estimates of GSV. Fragmentation analyses using a MODIS-based land cover dataset revealed an increase of retrieval error with increasing fragmentation of the landscape. Cross-comparisons of multiple SAR-based GSV estimates helped to detect inconsistencies in the forest inventory data and can support an update of outdated forest inventory stands.
Forests2014, 5(7), 1737-1752; doi:10.3390/f5071737 (doi registration under processing) - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Despite the growing ecological and social importance of second-growth and regenerating forests across much of the world, significant inconsistencies remain in the legal framework governing these forests in many tropical countries and elsewhere. Such inconsistencies and uncertainties undermine attempts to improve both the transparency and sustainability of management regimes. Here, we present a case-study overview of some of the main challenges facing the governance of second-growth forests and the forest restoration process in the Brazilian Amazon, with a focus on the state of Pará, which is both the most populous state in the Amazon and the state with the highest rates of deforestation in recent years. First, we briefly review the history of environmental governance in Brazil that has led to the current system of legislation governing second-growth forests and the forest restoration process in Pará. Next, we draw on this review to examine the kinds of legislative and operational impediments that stand in the way of the development and implementation of a more effective governance system. In particular, we highlight problems created by significant ambiguities in legal terminology and inconsistencies in guidance given across different levels of government. We also outline some persistent problems with the implementation of legal guidance, including the need to understand local biophysical factors in order to guide an effective restoration program, as well as difficulties presented by access to technical assistance, institutional support and financial resources for the establishment and monitoring of both existing secondary forests and newly regenerating areas of forest. Whilst we focus here on a Brazilian case study, we suggest that these kinds of impediments to the good governance of second-growth forests are commonplace and require more concerted attention from researchers, managers and policy makers.
Forests2014, 5(7), 1717-1736; doi:10.3390/f5071717 (doi registration under processing) - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Douglas-fir is the most commercially important timber species in the US Pacific Northwest due to its ecological prevalence and its superior wood attributes, especially strength and stiffness properties that make it highly prized for structural applications. Its economic significance has led to extensive establishment and management of plantations over the last few decades. Cultural treatments and genetic improvement designed to increase production of utilizable wood volume also impact tree morphology and wood properties. Many of these impacts are mediated by crown development, particularly the amount and distribution of foliage and size and geometry of branches. Natural selection for branch architecture that optimizes reproductive fitness may not necessarily be optimal for stem volume growth rate or for wood properties controlling the quality of manufactured solid wood products. Furthermore, Douglas-fir does not self-prune within the rotation lengths currently practiced. This paper synthesizes extensive Douglas-fir research in the Pacific Northwest addressing: (1) the effects of silviculture and genetics on branch structure and associated consequences for wood quality and the product value chain; and (2) methods to measure, monitor, modify, and model branch attributes to assist managers in selecting appropriate silvicultural techniques to achieve wood quality objectives and improve the value of their Douglas-fir resource.
Forests2014, 5(7), 1695-1716; doi:10.3390/f5071695 - published online 15 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Half of the productive forest area in Sweden is owned by small-scale private forest owners. However, there is a lack of comprehensive information that would allow categorizing small-scale private forest owners according to their management strategy. In this study, we surveyed small-scale private forest owners in Sweden to determine the proportions who applied various management strategies. We analyzed the results using chi-square tests to identify the most relevant factors affecting the management strategy choices of individual forest owners. We found that “soft” factors, such as the importance of income from the forest, membership in a forest owners’ association, certification and an interest in and knowledge of forestry issues, had a stronger impact on the choice of management strategy than most “hard” factors related to the owner or the property, such as gender and distance between the owner’s residence and the property. However, property size was the most important factor and was associated with the importance of income derived from the forest and several other soft factors.
Forests2014, 5(7), 1682-1694; doi:10.3390/f5071682 - published online 15 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: During the past decade in forest mapping and monitoring applications, the ability to acquire spatially accurate, 3D remote-sensing information by means of laser scanning, digital stereo imagery and radar imagery has been a major turning point. These 3D data sets that use single- or multi-temporal point clouds enable a wide range of applications when combined with other geoinformation and logging machine-measured data. New technologies enable precision forestry, which can be defined as a method to accurately determine characteristics of forests and treatments at stand, sub-stand or individual tree level. In precision forestry, even individual tree-level assessments can be used for simulation and optimization models of the forest management decision support system. At the moment, the forest industry in Finland is looking forward to next generation’s forest inventory techniques to improve the current wood procurement practices. Our vision is that in the future, the data solution for detailed forest management and wood procurement will be to use multi-source and -sensor information. In this communication, we review our recent findings and describe our future vision in precision forestry research in Finland.
Forests2014, 5(7), 1653-1681; doi:10.3390/f5071653 - published online 11 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The difficulty of defining and quantifying forest degradation is a major constraint in the implementation of the international mitigation mechanism Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Our aim is to develop an operational framework for defining and quantifying forest degradation at a local level for early REDD+ projects and for national REDD+ programmes, through a ground level approach. We critically review and discuss national and international definitions of forest and of forest degradation, and then analyze the main difficulties in making these operational, evaluating the key elements and threshold values that are used, and contextualizing them using Mexico as a case study. We conclude that, given the lack of historical biomass data and the limited capability for monitoring degradation using remote sensing, forest degradation is best measured against a local benchmark that represents areas of low or no degradation that have comparable biophysical characteristics. Use of benchmarks of this type could offer a quick-start option for local assessment and construction of reference levels for forest degradation. These could be refined as more data become available and could eventually be integrated into national monitoring systems.