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IUFRO The Advocate for Forest Science.
Division 1 includes the study of forest and ecosystem management; stand establishment and treatment (including fertilization); agroforestry; biomass for energy; restoration of degraded sites; mountain zone and arid zone silviculture; tropical, boreal and temperate zone silviculture; and natural (extensive) and artifical (intensive) silvicultural systems.
For a long time the greatest silvicultural tasks and challenges in the world have been related to basic needs for people, including water, food, energy, fodder, fibre, diversity, and recreation. These tasks and challenges continue, but have now to be dealt with in the perspective of the increasingly important context of changing climate. Reports of current impacts of climate-mediated events on forests include diebacks, mass mortality and changes in tree physiology, forest biodiversity, forest growth and productivity, and thereby affecting livelihoods of populations around the world. The adaptation of forests and forestry to climate change can thus be regarded as the major silvicultural challenge. It focuses on a needed change, from non-intervention or reactive adaptation, to planned adaptation. This can be regarded as a paradigm shift from sustainable forest management based on past conditions to a management of uncertainty and goal of sustainable livelihoods.
In turn, this calls for the development of even more flexible silvicultural and agroforestry systems, adjusted to include new risks and realities. Stand-scale and landscape-scale adaptation approaches must include uncertainty and replace deterministically based practices. Examples of stand level silvicultural actions to meet these future challenges are planting of a larger diversity of species and provenances, introduction of a more uneven structure in spacing and age classes, increased afforestation and reforestation, and restoration of degraded forests. Passive or active measures to minimize the potential impacts of fire, insects and diseases are examples of landscape-scale options. Monitoring for impact and risk assessment are core components in planned adaptation and new knowledge, new methods, and new fields of expertise have to be incorporated and applied. The likelihood that the costs of risk in forestry will increase and affect net revenues presents a major challenge. Of particular concern is the fact that many developing and least developed countries lack the resources and expertise to support monitoring of forest health and damage assessments, or implement adequate early responses and appropriate silvicultural actions for mitigating likely climate change impacts. Here, a resource transfer from developed countries and capacity building is an absolute prerequisite. Climate change is clearly an equity issue that needs to be better addressed by the global community. Developing anad testing of new, highly streamlined monitoring techniques and adaptation approaches are challenges for research.
It is expected that within 20 years half of all wood fibre in the world will be sourced from plantations, and more than half of those are in the tropics and subtropics. Tropical timber plantations are increasingly developed as parts of farming systems, to control erosion or to rehabilitate degraded lands and forests. This trend is truly a challenge for silvicultural research, as well as the strong strive for climate friendly bio-energy, including fuels. Another challenge emerges from the fact that the survival and persistence of many threatened and endangered tree species is in doubt. The restoration of degraded land provides an opportunity to establish these rare tree species and increase biodiversity of treated areas, provided silvicultural information is available.