2. Special Management Orientations


This section describes some key activities and special management orientations related to forestry.

Range management

Most livestock grazing occurs on non-forested rangelands, but in different parts of the world, forests and other wooded are still used for grazing. Sometimes forests can supply the critical portion of forage that is available to livestock. This activity often competes with the use of forests for watershed protection, wildlife and recreation (Leuschner et al. 1996) and - if implemented without being planned - can result in damage to forests. Most rangelands are natural, but in a Southern U.S. example the clear-cutting and subsequent abandonment of large areas of southern pine land in the earlier part of the 20th century increased the supply of open range.    

Watershed management

A watershed or catchment area is the land area that drains into a stream or river. The area of watershed may be several hectares for a small creek or millions of hectares at a large river basin. Since many watersheds are fully or partially forested, and since vegetation patterns can strongly influence downstream water quality and quantity, foresters are concerned with watershed management. Management deals with land-use practices and forest or other vegetation manipulation designed to change or maintain the quality and quantity of water for various purposes (i.e., residences, industry, irrigation, fish, wildlife and recreation) (Leuschner et al. 1996).

Various types of forest manipulations affect the water (and material) flows through catchment areas differently. There are indications that low flows may be reduced considerably upon clearing high altitudes in cloud forests in the tropics. Even with minimum soil disturbance, there will be local increases in storm flow volumes and peak flows after forest removal because of the reductions associated with it. Increases in storm flow after (well-conducted) forestry operations tend to diminish or disappear altogether as new vegetation cover becomes established. However, caution is required when trying to extrapolate the undoubtedly adverse effects of indiscriminate forest clearing on local infiltration opportunities and storm run-off generation over large river basins. Also, reforesting degraded tropical areas with fast growing evergreen trees on a low flow area may produce adverse effects. Water management and  soil conservation are  among those complicated forest topics, where research has not yet been able to provide definite guidelines.

Soil conservation

Watershed management is often connected to soil conservation practices, since the mismanagement of forests in areas with varying topography causes increased surface water flows which in turn causes soil erosion. Soil erosion is a transfer of soil from one place to another due to natural agents such as water, wind and gravity. The term usually refers to accelerated soil erosion, which is mostly induced or intensified by human activities.

Soil conservation is focused on the prevention of soil erosion and the maintenance or restoration of the natural productivity of soils. The role of forest ecosystems is important in the regulation of biogeochemical cycles in the retention and formation of soils and nutrients for improving soil fertility and structure.

Soil erosion has a long history, most often related to indiscriminate forest clearing and a change of forest cover to unsustainable forms of other land uses such as agricultural crops or the grazing of livestock. It has been described by Walter Lowdermilk (one of the early pioneers of better soil management practices) as "the greatest enemy of the human race". It has also been claimed that the disappearance of several past cultures have strongly been related to soil erosion.

The impacts of soil erosion are called "on-site impacts" and are related to the fertility and structure of soil where soil materials are separated by water or wind. The transportation of eroded materials, or in worst case scenarios as large land masses, may cause significant, and sometimes dramatic, consequences down stream to water systems, irrigation channels, dams and water reservoirs (as well to residences and other infrastructures). This kind of damage is called off-site damage. The economic loss of soil erosion is the sum of on-site and off-site costs.

There are two ways to prevent soil erosion at critical locations: through "biological" means with the planting of vegetation and through engineering measures in place such as constructing concrete or wooden structures.

Tourism recreation and park management

Forests and wooded land areas have been used as a popular place for leisure and recreational activities ever since subsistence needs released people from the necessities of everyday life. Some years ago it was suggested that in the United Statest, recreation produces the most economic value from the use of national forests. However, this value was implied from use levels since recreation in national forests generally occurred with only nominal charges (and the downstream water that is used occurs without charge) (Committee of scientists 1999).

Eco-tourism or Nature Tourism

Eco-tourism or nature tourism consists of activities that relate to or depend on natural environments such as forests, mountain areas, open lands, lakes, rivers and coastal areas. They are an attraction and a physical environment for numerous nature-based activities. Hiking and backpacking, hunting and fishing, canoeing, bird watching, visiting national parks and nature trails are considered as the most common of activities. One of the more permanent trends has been the increase in the number of visits to national parks, which has existed for several decades.

The tourism industry is a compilation of different economic activities, where accommodation, restaurants and food services, transportation services and activity (as well as amenity services at the destination) compose the core functions. Tourism has been regarded to be the world's largest employer, generating directly or indirectly more than 200 million jobs (WTTC 2004). 

The FAO (2005) states that "the recent boom in nature tourism and ecotourism provides emerging challenges and opportunities for forest management". However, with a few exceptions, the forestry profession does not look upon ecotourism as a forest management strategy and much more could be done to sensitize foresters on the need to include ecotourism in management regimes. It is a challenge to see how dispersed nature-based tourism should best be developed to create local income and employment.

Fire management

Fire management is one of those forestry activities that has been a normal part of forest protection and silviculture. In many parts of the world it has become a specific branch of management. This is due to the increased damage wild fires have brought to nature and the threats it poses for people and their houses.  For example, in Mediterranean countries fire has been considered a natural element of the forest, largely determining its species composition and landscape structure. At the same time it is also the most significant hazard and an increasing risk to people and settlements. Fire management and protection is also an example of forest related activities, which requires cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination as well as social considerations to dampen the human-related cause of fires.

Multiple use 
Multiple use means the management of forests and forest lands for several different uses (i.e., for wood production, game and hunting, recreation and biodiversity protection). From a production point of view "multiple use" can refer to multi-product or multi-commodity production (Saastamoinen 1982). Forest and land uses can be organised as:

1. simultaneously in the same land area,
2. each designated to a  single forest use as a specific sub-area where that use is dominating or the only use,
3. rotating forest uses in sequence according to the season or development stage of forests and,
4. as a combination  of the approaches in 1  though 3.

The principle of multiple-use is widely accepted in forestry and is one of the major principles that includes the new contents of sustainable forest management (POLICY4).
Forest ecosystem management

Over a decade ago (particularly in North America) forestry became refocused on ecosystem management. According to Kimmins (2004), this approach takes the multiple-use concept of the 1960s and places it on an ecological foundation of ecological site classification with respect for the dynamic changing character of the ecosystem and the forest landscape (including the historical disturbance in forests). It also includes the requirement for a balance between ecological, economic and social considerations. 

In the United States, ecosystem management has been adopted by federal (public-owned) forests. In a strategic document on U.S. federal forests, it was stated that ecosystem management emphasizes management across broad landscapes while sustaining ecological processes. By promoting an ecosystem management strategy, the document also mentions that timber revenue sales have been reduced as the level of harvest declined and shifted to smaller and less valuable trees (in regards to ecosystem management). The implementation of ecosystem management has also raised the expenses of activities because this requires more analysis and monitoring (including the involvement of more specialists) (Committee of Scientists 1999).    

Learn more about sustainable forest management in POLICY4.

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