Does plantation forestry restore biodiversity or create green deserts? A synthesis of the effects of land-use transitions on plant species richness

Bremer, Leah L.; Farley, Kathleen A.
December 2010
Biodiversity & Conservation;Dec2010, Vol. 19 Issue 14, p3893
Academic Journal
Plantations are established for a variety of reasons including wood production, soil and water conservation, and more recently, carbon sequestration. The effect of this growing land-use change on biodiversity, however, is poorly understood and considerable debate exists as to whether plantations are 'green deserts' or valuable habitat for indigenous flora and fauna. This paper synthesizes peer-reviewed articles that provide quantitative data on plant species richness in plantations and paired land uses, most often representative of pre-plantation land cover. The results of this synthesis suggest that the value of plantations for biodiversity varies considerably depending on whether the original land cover is grassland, shrubland, primary forest, secondary forest, or degraded or exotic pasture, and whether native or exotic tree species are planted. The results of this study suggest that plantations are most likely to contribute to biodiversity when established on degraded lands rather than replacing natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands, and shrublands, and when indigenous tree species are used rather than exotic species. These findings can help guide afforestation and reforestation programs, including those aimed at increasing terrestrial carbon sequestration.


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