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Forest landscapes and global change: Challenges for research and management.

Forest landscapes and global change: Challenges for research and management

J.C. Azevedo, A.H. Perera andM. Alice Pinto

2014. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4939-0952-0. 145.59 [euro].

Forests throughout the world are changing in extent, composition and use with unprecedented speed. Foresters struggle to understand and respond to the forces that are driving these changes. Forest landscape ecology is emerging as a distinct discipline seeking to improve our understanding of these meso-scale forest dynamics. The progress of this new branch of forest science is comprehensively reviewed in this book which brings together papers from a 2010 meeting of the Landscape Ecology Working Group of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations. The meeting took place in Braganca, Portugal and was attended by 300 landscape ecologists from more than 50 countries. Ten of the papers presented at the meeting are included in this volume which has been produced to the high standards that one expects from this publisher. A high proportion of the participants at the meeting came from Iberia and the USA and papers deal with forest landscape studies from these regions and from Amazonia - there is little from Asia or the Boreal zone. The papers review different aspects of forest landscape ecology and focus very much on the drivers of the current rapid change in forest landscapes that the authors describe. These drivers range from the general impacts of changing climates to fires and other human actions. Outcomes of changes in terms of provision of ecosystem services, carbon fluxes and biodiversity receive attention. Concluding chapters deal with assessment and monitoring and the management implications of changes in forest landscapes.

The concept of the "landscape" and attempts to use this concept to manage landscape change and influence landscape outcomes has received a lot of attention in recent years (Milder et al. 2012). There is recognition that diverse land uses that together make a landscape are often under the control of sectoral agencies that tend to operate in silos. Landscape approaches are an attempt to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts - to achieve outcomes that meet the diverse needs of society to use land efficiently to achieve multiple objectives (Scherr and McNeely 2008). Landscape interventions are therefore often concerned with the interactions between different components of the landscape. This volume is different; it is a forest ecologist's view of the landscape and it deals with the distribution and internal functioning of areas of forest within a landscape. The concept of multifunctionality and trees outside forests do not receive much attention. Instead the papers give highly technical and thorough accounts of the impacts of landscape-scale changes on the forests that form part of those landscapes. There is much analysis of patterns of forest distribution, connectivity of patches, edge effects and changes in the species composition of forests that result from multiple drivers of change. The coverage of research on these topics is impressive; I was quite astonished at the number of citations and this must surely be the most comprehensive review of work on forests in their landscape context that has been produced.

The volume contains much wisdom relevant to forest managers and land-use planners but the highly scientific presentation will mean that most readers will be academics. The comprehensive coverage of the book will make it an excellent starting point for anyone embarking on research on the dynamics of forests within their landscape contexts. The current trend towards more integrated approaches to natural resources management is not really captured in the papers and the volume might have been enriched if some contributions had looked at landscapes as functioning systems with emergent properties to which trees and forest contribute. Given the title of the volume there might have been some reference to the current discussion of how landscapes might be made more climate-smart so as to better adapt to climate change and contribute to mitigation efforts (Minang 2014).

Overall this is a very well-produced book on an important topic and it will be a valuable resource as we attempt to influence the evolution of our forested landscapes as they respond to stresses to which they will be subject in coming decades.


MILDER, J.C., BUCK, L.E., DECLERCK, F. & SCHERR, S.J. 2012. Landscape approaches to achieving food production, natural resource conservation, and the millennium development goals. Integrating Ecology and Poverty Reduction. Springer.

MINANG, P. 2014. Climate smart landscapes. World Agroforestry Center, Nairobi, Kenya.

SCHERR, S.J. & MCNEELY, J.A. 2008. Biodiversity conservation and agricultural sustainability: towards a new paradigm of 'ecoagriculture'landscapes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363: 477-494.

Jeffrey Sayer

James Cook University

Cairns, Australia
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Author:Sayer, Jeffrey
Publication:International Forestry Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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