Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X). This special issue belongs to the section "Landscape Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2023) | Viewed by 30272

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Wild Heritage, PO Box 945, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA
Interests: conservation biology; climate change; forest carbon; biodiversity; wildfire ecology; forest policy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Cities Research Institure and Climate Change Response Program, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia
Interests: landscape planning; community-based planning; enviornmental governance; sustianable development; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Thirty years have passed since the Rio Earth Summit set the goal of arresting deforestation and forest degradation worldwide. However, the recent slowdown in deforestation in tropical regions has been inconsistent at best, while ongoing losses are resulting in irreversible landscape and climate change outcomes (e.g., the Amazon). At the same time, the increase in forest cover elsewhere has largely/often been plantation monocultures or patchy proteced areas, which do not provide the stable, biodiverse ecosystems and high-quality ecosystem services of primary forests. Conversion to agriculture, bioenergy, industrial forestry, and climate change are just some of the challenges confronting the Rio challenge. In response, much discussion has centered around the ecological, governance, and planning aspects of the ‘landscape approach’ as a means for protecting forest ecosystems that are essential for climate stabilization, biodiversity, and ecosystem services while addressing development and human rights in forest communities. This Special Issue explores the drivers of forest loss and ways to respond holistically to the unmet Rio challenge including the institutional structures and processes (governance) of public and private institutions for forest conservation.

  1. Present the latest definitional developments of key concepts, including ‘landscape approach,’ ‘intact forest landscape,’ ‘primary forest,’ and ‘high conservation value’;
  2. Update and provide a critical analysis of international efforts/treaties to slow forest loss (e.g., Rio 30 years later, UN declaration on forests, REDD+, Paris agreement);
  3. Provide a synopsis of forest reporting results and methods in different regions of the world (tropics, boreal, temperate biomes) with attention on key drivers of loss and impacts on biodiversity and the climate;
  4. Address the role and importance of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and non-government stakeholders in protecting/conserving forests.

    Suggested themes and article types for submissions.

    * Forest declarations and treaties—what works, what does not?

    * New methods for tracking loss and degradation.

    * Status and importance—old-growth forests, primary forests, complex early seral forests generated by natural disturbances, Red-listed forest ecosystems, rare and poorly recognized forests.

    * Conversion vs. degradation, bioenergy, and climate change drivers of loss.

    * The landscape-based approach, ecosystem integrity, planning, and governance.

    * Sustainable forestry, reduced-impact logging—limitations and advantages.

    * Forests and ecosystem services.

    * Pro-forestation and forest restoration.

    * Communities and forests: rights and forests, community-based conservation, community-based forestry.

    * Forests and agriculture: conflicts and synergies in the landscape

Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala
Dr. Edward Morgan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • forest governance
  • ecosystem services
  • sustainable management
  • forest loss
  • landscape approach

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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25 pages, 7367 KiB  
Article
Policy Evaluation and Monitoring of Agricultural Expansion in Forests in Myanmar: An Integrated Approach of Remote Sensing Techniques and Social Surveys
by Su Mon San, Navneet Kumar, Lisa Biber-Freudenberger and Christine B. Schmitt
Land 2024, 13(2), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13020150 - 27 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1143
Abstract
Agricultural expansion is the main driver of deforestation in Myanmar. We analyzed the effectiveness of a national policy intervention on agricultural encroachment in state forests in Taungoo District in Myanmar from 2010 to 2020. The policy aims to stop agricultural encroachment and reforest [...] Read more.
Agricultural expansion is the main driver of deforestation in Myanmar. We analyzed the effectiveness of a national policy intervention on agricultural encroachment in state forests in Taungoo District in Myanmar from 2010 to 2020. The policy aims to stop agricultural encroachment and reforest encroached areas through farmers’ participation in an agroforestry community forestry. We applied an integrated approach that involved a land cover change analysis together with a household survey about encroachment behavior. The remote sensing analysis for the years 2010, 2015 and 2020 showed the land cover change pattern and an increase in agricultural encroachment from 9.5% to 18.5%, while forests declined from 62.8% to 51.9%. The survey showed that most farmers (91%) believed that the policy intervention did not lead to a change in their encroachment behavior or farm size. The main reasons that incentivized encroachment were stated to be livelihood needs, immigration due to marriage and increased accessibility due to road construction. The main reason for reducing encroachment was plantation establishment, leading to a loss of land for encroaching farmers. In conclusion, the integrated approach showed that the policy intervention did not decrease encroachment, whereas other factors influenced encroachment behavior. We recommend solving interministerial conflicts of interest related to encroachment in Myanmar and using an integrated approach for future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities)
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23 pages, 352 KiB  
Article
Forest Governance in Nepal concerning Sustainable Community Forest Management and Red Panda Conservation
by Timothy Cadman, Tek Maraseni, Upama Ashish Koju, Anita Shrestha and Sikha Karki
Land 2023, 12(2), 493; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12020493 - 16 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4128
Abstract
This paper investigates issues confronting forest management and sustainability, focusing on the governance of the community forest user group (CFUG) initiative in Nepal. The paper begins with a literature review to give a general overview of the historical and current situation of forest [...] Read more.
This paper investigates issues confronting forest management and sustainability, focusing on the governance of the community forest user group (CFUG) initiative in Nepal. The paper begins with a literature review to give a general overview of the historical and current situation of forest governance in Nepal. It explores the historical impacts of unsustainable logging in Nepal and the World Bank Report, which both investigated and explored avenues for improving the forest situation, including community forestry. The paper outlines the development of community forestry, the legislative, regulatory, and governance frameworks underpinning this unique system of community-driven forest management, and its relationship to sustainable forest management (SFM). SFM in turn has engendered a market for sustainably derived timber and labeling systems for ‘good’ wood. The paper continues by providing an analysis of stakeholder attitudes regarding the current forest governance situation in Nepal. Furthermore, it provides another small case study on how such standards might be applied in the local community context of protecting Nepal’s Red Panda while simultaneously delivering sustainable forest management and community development. It concludes with a discussion on the need for governance standards for forest management and community forestry in Nepal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities)
8 pages, 1740 KiB  
Communication
Cumulative Tree Mortality from Commercial Thinning and a Large Wildfire in the Sierra Nevada, California
by Bryant C. Baker and Chad T. Hanson
Land 2022, 11(7), 995; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11070995 - 30 Jun 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3108
Abstract
Debate remains about the effectiveness of commercial thinning as a wildfire management strategy, with some studies reporting somewhat lower severity in thinned forests, and some reporting higher severity, during wildfires. However, while vegetation severity is a measure of basal area tree mortality, research [...] Read more.
Debate remains about the effectiveness of commercial thinning as a wildfire management strategy, with some studies reporting somewhat lower severity in thinned forests, and some reporting higher severity, during wildfires. However, while vegetation severity is a measure of basal area tree mortality, research on this question generally omits tree mortality from thinning itself. We investigated whether cumulative tree mortality, or cumulative severity, from commercial thinning and wildfire was different between thinned and unthinned forests in the Caldor Fire of 2021 in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA. We found significantly higher cumulative severity in commercial thinning areas compared to unthinned forests. More research is needed to determine whether cumulative severity is higher in commercially thinned forests in other large western US wildfires. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities)
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21 pages, 2429 KiB  
Article
Comparing Community Needs and REDD+ Activities for Capacity Building and Forest Protection in the Équateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo
by Edward A. Morgan, Glenn Bush, Joseph Zambo Mandea, Melaine Kermarc and Brendan Mackey
Land 2022, 11(6), 918; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11060918 - 15 Jun 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2084
Abstract
Primary forests are essential ecosystems that can play a key role in mitigating climate change. REDD+ is designed to help countries and communities secure benefits for avoiding deforestation but has faced significant implementation challenges. There are substantial potential benefits for REDD+ in the [...] Read more.
Primary forests are essential ecosystems that can play a key role in mitigating climate change. REDD+ is designed to help countries and communities secure benefits for avoiding deforestation but has faced significant implementation challenges. There are substantial potential benefits for REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where shifting agriculture is the major cause of deforestation. However, implementation requires significant capacity building in a number of sectors and at a number of levels. This paper explores how well the capacity building activities within the DRC REDD+ strategy are aligned with the capacity needs identified by provincial government stakeholders and local communities in the Équateur province of the DRC, identified through workshops and surveys. The research suggests that while many technical capacity needs identified by stakeholders could be potentially addressed by the REDD+ strategy, there are number of systemic capacity needs that are unlikely to be addressed. Failure to address these needs risks undermining any implementation of REDD+. The results suggest that education and training in governance and management, as well as fundamental education in sustainability, are key capacity needs that REDD+ may need to incorporate. The results also provide further evidence that REDD+ projects need to be long-term and take into account the local context and needs in order to be effective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities)
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18 pages, 2464 KiB  
Article
The Tongass National Forest, Southeast Alaska, USA: A Natural Climate Solution of Global Significance
by Dominick A. DellaSala, Seth R. Gorelik and Wayne S. Walker
Land 2022, 11(5), 717; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11050717 - 10 May 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 7868
Abstract
The 6.7 M ha Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, USA, supports a world-class salmon fishery, is one of the world’s most intact temperate rainforests, and is recognized for exceptional levels of carbon stored in woody biomass. We quantified biomass and soil organic [...] Read more.
The 6.7 M ha Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, USA, supports a world-class salmon fishery, is one of the world’s most intact temperate rainforests, and is recognized for exceptional levels of carbon stored in woody biomass. We quantified biomass and soil organic carbon (C) by land use designation, Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs), young and productive old-growth forests (POGs), and 77 priority watersheds. We used published timber harvest volumes (roundwood) to estimate C stock change across five time periods from early historical (1909–1951) through future (2022–2100). Total soil organic and woody biomass C in the Tongass was 2.7 Pg, representing ~20% of the total forest C stock in the entire national forest system, the equivalent of 1.5 times the 2019 US greenhouse gas emissions. IRAs account for just over half the C, with 48% stored in POGs. Nearly 15% of all C is within T77 watersheds, >80% of which overlaps with IRAs, with half of that overlapping with POGs. Young growth accounted for only ~5% of the total C stock. Nearly two centuries of historical and projected logging would release an estimated 69.5 Mt CO2e, equivalent to the cumulative emissions of ~15 million vehicles. Previously logged forests within IRAs should be allowed to recover carbon stock via proforestation. Tongass old growth, IRAs, and priority watersheds deserve stepped-up protection as natural climate solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities)
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7 pages, 1042 KiB  
Communication
Cumulative Severity of Thinned and Unthinned Forests in a Large California Wildfire
by Chad T. Hanson
Land 2022, 11(3), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11030373 - 3 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2325
Abstract
Studies pertaining to fire severity in commercially thinned versus unthinned forests are based on a comparison of tree mortality between the two categories. Commercial thinning is widely conducted on public and private forestlands as a fire management approach designed to reduce fire severity [...] Read more.
Studies pertaining to fire severity in commercially thinned versus unthinned forests are based on a comparison of tree mortality between the two categories. Commercial thinning is widely conducted on public and private forestlands as a fire management approach designed to reduce fire severity and associated tree mortality. However, tree mortality from thinning itself, prior to the occurrence of the wildfire, is generally not taken into account, which leaves a potentially important source of tree loss, with its associated forest carbon loss and carbon emissions, unreported. This study investigated the “cumulative severity” of commercially thinned and unthinned forests in a large 2021 wildfire, the Antelope fire, occurring within mixed-conifer forests on public lands in northern California, USA. Using published data regarding the percent basal area mortality for each commercial thinning unit that burned in the Antelope fire, combined with percent basal area mortality due to the fire itself from post-fire satellite imagery, it was found that commercial thinning was associated with significantly higher overall tree mortality levels (cumulative severity). More research is needed, in other large forest fires, to determine whether the finding, that commercial thinning killed more trees than it prevented from being killed, is common elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities)
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15 pages, 3761 KiB  
Perspective
Creating Strategic Reserves to Protect Forest Carbon and Reduce Biodiversity Losses in the United States
by Beverly E. Law, William R. Moomaw, Tara W. Hudiburg, William H. Schlesinger, John D. Sterman and George M. Woodwell
Land 2022, 11(5), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11050721 - 11 May 2022
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 8099
Abstract
This paper provides a review and comparison of strategies to increase forest carbon, and reduce species losses for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the United States. It compares forest management strategies and actions that are taking place or being proposed to reduce [...] Read more.
This paper provides a review and comparison of strategies to increase forest carbon, and reduce species losses for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the United States. It compares forest management strategies and actions that are taking place or being proposed to reduce wildfire risk and to increase carbon storage with recent research findings. International agreements state that safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems is fundamental to climate resilience with respect to climate change impacts on them, and their roles in adaptation and mitigation. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on impacts, mitigation, and adaptation found, and member countries agreed, that maintaining the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services at a global scale is “fundamental” for climate mitigation and adaptation, and requires “effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30 to 50% of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean areas, including current near-natural ecosystems.” Our key message is that many of the current and proposed forest management actions in the United States are not consistent with climate goals, and that preserving 30 to 50% of lands for their carbon, biodiversity and water is feasible, effective, and necessary for achieving them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forests in the Landscape: Threats and Opportunities)
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