Balancing the environmental benefits of reforestation in agricultural regions

Cunningham, S. C., Mac Nally, R., Baker, P. J., Cavagnaro, T. R., Beringer, J., Thomson, J. R. and Thompson, R. M. 2015, Balancing the environmental benefits of reforestation in agricultural regions, Perspectives in plant ecology, evolution and systematics, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 301-317, doi: 10.1016/j.ppees.2015.06.001.

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Title Balancing the environmental benefits of reforestation in agricultural regions
Author(s) Cunningham, S. C.
Mac Nally, R.
Baker, P. J.
Cavagnaro, T. R.
Beringer, J.
Thomson, J. R.
Thompson, R. M.
Journal name Perspectives in plant ecology, evolution and systematics
Volume number 17
Issue number 4
Start page 301
End page 317
Total pages 17
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2015-07
ISSN 1433-8319
Keyword(s) Biodiversity
Carbon sequestration
Habitat resources
Nutrient cycling
Water yield
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Plant Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Summary Reforestation is an important tool for reducing or reversing biodiversity loss and mitigating climate change. However, there are many potential compromises between the structural (biodiversity) and functional (carbon sequestration and water yield) effects of reforestation, which can be affected by decisions on spatial design and establishment of plantings. We review the environmental responses to reforestation and show that manipulating the configuration of plantings (location, size, species mix and tree density) increases a range of environmental benefits. More extensive tree plantings (>10. ha) provide more habitat, and greater improvements to carbon and water cycling. Planting a mixture of native trees and shrubs is best for biodiversity, while traditional plantation species, generally non-native species, sequester C faster. Tree density can be manipulated at planting or during early development to accelerate structural maturity and to manage water yields. A diversity of habitats will be created by planting in a variety of landscape positions and by emulating the patchy distribution of forest types, which characterized many regions prior to extensive landscape transformation. Areas with shallow aquifers can be planted to reduce water pollution or avoided to maintain water yields. Reforestation should be used to build forest networks that are surrounded by low-intensity land use and that provide links within regions and between biomes. While there are adequate models for C sequestration and changes in water yields after reforestation, the quantitative understanding of changes in habitat resources and species composition is more limited. Development of spatial and temporal modelling platforms based on empirical models of structural and functional outcomes of reforestation is essential for deciding how to reconfigure agricultural regions. To build such platforms, we must quantify: (a) the influence of previous land uses, establishment methods, species mixes and interactions with adjacent land uses on environmental (particularly biodiversity) outcomes of reforestation and (b) the ways in which responses measured at the level of individual plantings scale up to watersheds and regions. Models based on this information will help widespread reforestation for carbon sequestration to improve native biodiversity, nutrient cycling and water balance at regional scales.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.ppees.2015.06.001
Field of Research 060208 Terrestrial Ecology
0602 Ecology
0607 Plant Biology
0603 Evolutionary Biology
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Elsevier
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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