Forests are becoming increasingly important for all of us, for good reasons. They protect property from bushfires, enhance the water supply, and provide the habitat for many species of flora and fauna. So it’s important to ensure that they are managed well, in a sustainable manner, to maintain their biodiversity.
Forests also produce wood that people need. And wood that is currently produced using unsustainable practices.
In most countries, the forestry sector accounts for 10% or more of all carbon dioxide emissions. We’re trying to develop and improve forest management practices that reduce carbon emissions while maximizing forest profits.
What Are the Core Success Factors of Forestry Research
Governments, and international organizations such as the United Nations, provide subsidies to promote the sustainable management of the forest sector. However, they cannot provide the economic incentives that can help forest owners to implement the best practices. However, the following factors have a high-end impact on any forestry and management research.
1) Research funding
The success of any forestry research project depends on its funding. Without funding, research studies may not be conducted.
Other funding challenges related to resource availability, research techniques, and the risks associated with research. Many of the challenges facing the forestry industry relate to the small size of its research budget and the need for more research on forest ecosystems and forest species.
2) Industry knowledge
Research reports written by industry partners give invaluable insights into the operations of specific production facilities.
Working directly with forest research scientists helps forge a stronger relationship between industry and science. A strong relationship helps to fast-track new findings into practice, while also helping to contribute to new knowledge for sustainable management of forest resources.
Collaboration between industry and academia is key to developing new research projects. Collaborative research projects between forest research scientists and forest industry partners are not only a cost-efficient way to fund research but also enable researchers to gain valuable real-world experience from working with forest producers.
Research projects have a direct and positive impact on the economy. The R&D sector provides high-value-added services that provide sustainable employment and contribute to the local community.
A good return on investment for the R&D sector is sustained and continued work.
Smallholders dominate the sector
Unfortunately, a substantial proportion of the existing forest area is still being farmed using unsustainable and unsustainable practices. And these practices continue to produce wood with low quality, low market value, and low yield.
Forests are an important part of the Australian economy, providing employment and products to the economy, and for the environment. But farmers need to improve their practices if they are to sustainably meet their future demand for timber and the many benefits that it brings.
Several factors affect the sustainable management of the forest sector, but understanding them has remained relatively limited. Many of these factors are economic in nature, but there are also some non-economic reasons for some poor forest practices.
For example, poor forest management may also be a legacy of historically exploitative relationships between landowners, loggers and plantation managers. This has continued to affect many countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the forest sector is mainly smallholder-run.
There is increasing evidence that a greater number of forest owners worldwide are switching to sustainable forest management practices. This is a good thing for the industry as well as for the environment, because these practices are often the most economically efficient.
But other recent research has shown that these forest owners are under some economic pressure to continue to use methods that are unsustainable. This is likely to be the case in Australia and many other countries, and we need to understand this issue better.
It’s important to establish what it is about different forest management practices that are beneficial for them, and the market while minimizing negative impacts on forest ecosystems and the farmers that work in the sector.
What influences forest management?
The first reason is that forest owners are willing to invest in improved forest management practices because they make money in many ways.
Farms with high wood yields have the highest value. They can also have a larger and more diverse range of trees on their property.
This means that the whole forest ecosystem benefits, including species that need and benefit from forest management, as well as those that don’t.
Healthy forests provide a range of ecosystem services for the people that live nearby. The ecosystem services that forests provide are collectively referred to as the “ecosystem services”. The services vary between ecosystems and areas but include flood mitigation, water purification, carbon storage, carbon sequestration, habitat, forage for forest birds and animals, and recreation and tourism benefits.
These ecosystem services help the people living in or near the forest to realize a variety of benefits.
A sustainable forest operation must ensure that the output of timber is well distributed among all the trees on the land. This can be done through the use of sustainable harvesting techniques. Sustainable harvesting involves using large and mechanized equipment.
These practices have the greatest impact on improving forest performance when managed in an integrated and coordinated way. It means that trees are harvested at a rate that minimizes damage to the forest ecosystem.
In other words, when all the practices used in forest management can be connected to the natural ecosystem, a large part of the goal of forest management is reached. This will leave a forest much better equipped to provide the ecosystem services that it provides for people and the environment.
Financial constraints and other environmental factors also influence the kind of forest management that is used. Farmers may use forest management practices that are expensive because they consider them to be the best, but they can be more expensive and difficult to manage than simpler practices that cost less.
These costs often have to be borne by farmers to avoid more immediate problems, such as declining profits or economic collapse, or lower yields. These difficulties increase when the harvesting season is short.
The impacts of forest management on the ground
Studies of well-managed and well-protected forests have shown that they contribute a range of ecosystem services for people, such as carbon storage, biodiversity, water purification, and flood mitigation. These benefits can be found at a wide range of scales, from lowland forests to mountain alpine forests.
From an environmental perspective, these forest management practices help minimize greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and water quality and enhance soil fertility, all of which improve people’s quality of life.
Forests that are managed sustainably do not have to “stay good enough” to continue their ecosystem services to the next generation.
What do farmers say?
Farmers have recognised that improving their forest management practices can reduce risks and costs for their farms.
Ecosystem services that improve the livelihoods of farmers can be provided more cost-effectively by protecting forests and enhancing forest management. This approach also provides other ecosystem services, including the benefits of cleaner water, timber, and wildlife.
These benefits include renewable energy, for example. And people living near forests have a better quality of life because of improved air quality, biodiversity, and soil fertility. This in turn helps them realize economic benefits, such as higher crop yields.
Forest Ecosystems Are Worth Protecting
People, especially farmers, who live near forests are quite concerned about the threats forest ecosystems are facing. The threats include unsustainable forest practices that can destroy forest ecosystems. Farmers consider it worthwhile to protect the forest for many reasons, including the following:
- forest landscapes are beneficial for farmers because they improve soil fertility and rainfall
- conservation of these areas can protect endangered species
- the trees and forests also improve the quality of life for people living nearby.
For these reasons, farmers have begun to actively participate in the process of improving forest management.
They can do this in two ways: by building capacity in forest management practices, and by promoting these to other farmers so that the practice is widely adopted.
Developing and deploying new technologies, implementing a positive business approach, and bringing the latest knowledge to the timber industry, researchers can continue to develop successful and sustainable research projects.