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Forests: Not just timber plantations

Authors:
Correspondence
Forests: see the trees
and the wood
Silvano Fares and colleagues’
recommendations for
managing Europes forests to
promote resilience and carbon
storage (Nature 519, 407–409;
2015) seem to overlook the
implications for forests as natural
ecosystems and run counter
to biodiversity sustainability
guidelines (D. B.Lindenmayer
etal. Biol. Conserv. 131, 433–445;
2006). These must be taken
into account if we are to meet
the Convention on Biological
Diversity’s Aichi targets and the
European Unions 2020 target for
halting biodiversity loss.
For example, managing a
forest’s composition of tree
species in favour of productive,
gale-resistant and disease-
tolerant species or genotypes
will be at the expense of
hundreds of native woody
species and their rich biota of
insects and fungi. Harvesting
trees at shorter intervals to
promote carbon storage would
endanger old forests and veteran
trees, along with the birds, bats,
beetles, fungi and lichens they
support. And removing woody
debris to prevent wildfires
would kill the wealth of
species that thrive on dead and
decaying wood.
Hans Henrik Bruun, Jacob
Heilmann-Clausen University of
Copenhagen, Denmark.
Rasmus Ejrnæs Aarhus
University, Denmark.
hhbruun@bio.ku.dk
Forests: not just
timber plantations
In considering how to develop
Europes forests sustainably
(S.Fares et al. Nature 519,
407–409; 2015), it is important to
differentiate between intensively
managed forestr y areas and
forests as natural habitats.
Working with, rather than
against, nature is more likely to
offer sustainable solutions (see,
for example, the forest work
Research network to
track alpine water
The water cycle in alpine
environments worldwide
supplies fresh water to vast
downstream areas inhabited by
more than half of humanity. The
International Network for Alpine
Research Catchment Hydrology
(INARCH) was launched this
year by the Global Energy and
Water Exchanges project of
the World Climate Research
Programme, to improve the
predictability of water resources
from mountainous regions (see
www.usask.ca/inarch).
Melting snow and ice are
Interim initiative for
health in Iran
As physicians working in Iran, we
agree that the lifting of economic
sanctions cannot come soon
enough for the nations health
(M. Aloosh and A. Aloosh Nature
520, 623; 2015). In the interim, a
group dedicated to restoring Irans
medical science, public health and
health diplomacy is launching a
non-profit organization — the
Iranian–American Partnership
for Medical Science and Public
Health Association (IAPA).
The partnership is based in
Switzerland and comprises US
and Iranian volunteers (including
myself).
One of IAPAs first priorities
is to seek relief for young cancer
patients in charity hospitals
where chemotherapy drugs are
in desperately short supply (see
S.Shahabi Nature 520, 157; 2015).
A channel for such humanitarian
support was established in
November2013 by the Joint Plan
of Action between Iran and six
other countries, in part to address
the unwanted consequences
of international sanctions (see
go.nature.com/nr1sfn).
Ali Akbar Velayati, Hamidreza
Jamaati, Seyed Mohammadreza
Hashemian Shahid Beheshti
University of Medical Sciences,
Tehran, Iran.
iran.criticalcare@yahoo.com
programme of the Convention
on Biological Diversity: www.
cbd.int/forest), especially in view
of the potential effects of climate
change on European forests.
One of the targets in
the European Union (EU)
biodiversity strategy for 2020
calls for forestry management
practices to improve the
conservation status of species
and habitats. Current forestry
practices all too often do just
the opposite (see, for instance,
D. B.Lindenmayer et al. Biol.
Conserv. 131, 433–445; 2006).
As the EU parliament debates
a common forest strategy, we
need to look beyond promoting
intensive forestry for maximum
timber yield under the flag of
climate change. Forestry practices
that preserve natural ecosystem
processes are likely to be more
effective in maintaining forests
biodiversity and natural resilience
against climate change (see, for
example, T.Kuuluvainen and
R.Grenfell Can. J. For. Res. 42,
1185–1203; 2012).
Bengt Gunnar Jonsson
MidSweden University, Sundsvall,
Sweden.
Guy Peer Helmholtz Centre for
Environmental Research — UFZ,
Leipzig, Germany.
Miroslav Svoboda Czech
University of Life Sciences, Prague,
Czech Republic.
bengt-gunnar.jonsson@miun.se
altering hydrological systems and
affecting the quantity and quality
of water resources, as indicated in
the 2014 Working Group II report
by the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change. Insight into
these processes has been limited
by the difficulties of collecting
data on the alpine water cycle in
high-mountain research areas.
Studies have been concentrated
at few sites, with poor data
comparison across mountainous
regions.
INARCH’s alpine catchments
are well equipped to measure
snow and ice hydrology. Such
information can be used, for
example, to investigate the
effects of mountain snowpacks
and glaciers on water supply,
or to study variations in energy
and water exchange in different
high-altitude regions. The
network will help to develop
new observational methods, a
measurement infrastructure and
an international database to guide
research and policy.
John Pomeroy University of
Saskatchewan, Canada.
Matthias Bernhardt BOKU
University of Natural Resources
and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria.
Daniel Marks US Department of
Agriculture Agricultural Research
Service, Boise, Idaho, USA.
matthias.bernhardt@boku.ac.at
Botanists still need
to tell plants apart
I disagree with Isabel Marques
frightening suggestion that
botanical education should be
‘modernized’ by moving away
from the study of specimens
towards a more molecular
approach (Nature 520, 295;
2015). Classical botanical
disciplines such as systematics
and taxonomy fail to attract
students not because they lack
molecular allure, but because of
the time-consuming focus they
demand.
In any case, many botany
students at universities worldwide
are also trained in molecular
biology, as at my institute, the
University of Pretoria in South
Africa, and at the Ruhr University
Bochum in Germany, for
instance. Even ‘old-fashioned’
studies in the field of plant
systematics rarely get published
without molecular data, and these
often include genomic data.
Drawing botanical education
away from the plant itself risks
creating ‘experts’ who cannot
reliably differentiate species.
Marques’ call for outreach to help
the public to identify common
plants would then not stand a
chance.
Martin Kemler University of
Pretoria, South Africa.
martin.kemler@fabi.up.ac.za
32 | NATURE | VOL 521 | 7 MAY 2015
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
... As noted in subsequent responses to Fares et al. (Bruun et al. 2015;Jonsson et al. 2015), these recommendations represent a worldview in which the value of forests is primarily believed to reside in their economic value as a source of marketable goods and services, notably timber. This overlooks the high biodiversity value of many natural forest ecosystems (Lindenmayer 2009). ...
... Introduction of genetic material from more southern populations represents a form of genetic pollution, which could reduce the evolutionary fitness of locally adapted native tree populations (Koskela et al. 2014). Management interventions to promote carbon storage, such as thinning or shorter rotations, would endanger old-growth forests and veteran trees, and could destroy the habitat characteristics that underlie their exceptional importance for biodiversity conservation (Bruun et al. 2015;Jonsson et al. 2015). Such recommendations highlight the fact that forestry practices can represent a major threat to forest biodiversity (Lindenmayer et al. 2006;Lindenmayer 2009). ...
... Such recommendations highlight the fact that forestry practices can represent a major threat to forest biodiversity (Lindenmayer et al. 2006;Lindenmayer 2009). Those management practices that preserve natural ecosystem processes are likely to be more effective in supporting forest biodiversity and resilience (Kuuluvainen & Grenfell 2012;Jonsson et al. Broadleaved woodland should be managed to maximize the crops' value by balancing quality and timber yield Planting material should be sourced from improved stands, where available or appropriate. It will be important to intervene frequently to promote adaptation through planting or to encourage natural regeneration and evolutionary adaptation. ...
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