Goods and services of plantation forests

Plantation forests can be defined as 'Forest or other wooded land of introduced species and in some cases native species, established through planting or seeding' (FAO, 2006) (see also Chapter 1). The importance of forest plantations is stated in the 'Forestry Principles' adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Brazil 1992, and reiterates the importance of intensively managed forest plantations. Principle 6d says: 'The role of cultivated forests ... as sustainable and environmentally sound sources of renewable energy and industrial raw materials should be recognized, enhanced and promoted. Their contribution to the maintenance of ecological processes, to offsetting pressure on primary/old growth forests, and to providing regional employment and development ... should be recognized and enhanced' (Shelton et al, 2001).

The functions and services of plantation forests are diverse. FAO for instance, makes a distinction between 'productive' and 'protective' plantations (FAO, 2006). Productive plantations are focused primarily on the production of industrial wood, fuelwood and non-wood forest goods (e.g. animal fodder, apiculture, essential oils, tan bark, cork, latex, food), whereas protective plantations are established to provide conservation, recreation, carbon sequestration, water quality control, erosion control and rehabilitation of degraded lands, which also includes landscape and amenity enhancement (e.g. Fuhrer, 2000; Shelton et al, 2001; Lamb et al, 2005).

In Table 2.1, an overview is given of the main goods and services that can be provided by forests. A detailed description of all these goods and services is beyond the purpose of this chapter, but an attempt is made here to indicate, in our view, the differences in service provision between native and plantation forests based on an analysis of several publications. As shown in the table, the main service of plantations is the provision of resources (especially raw materials such as timber, energy sources such as palm oil, and to a lesser extent food, fodder and fertilizer). The reduction of surface run-off, erosion, and storm and flood damage are also important services. Compared to natural forests, however, the provision of most other forest services is reduced.

We stress that this is a preliminary analysis of limited literature sources, and much uncertainty still exists about how to measure service performance and the influence of management on the provision of goods and services. For example, it is generally assumed that forests prevent erosion and reduce runoff (e.g. Brown et al, 2005), but exactly to what extent, and whether this varies between different forest types is not well understood (e.g. Bruijnzeel, 2004).

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