Bosques, Biodiversidad y Servicios Ecosistémicos / Forests, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Session moderator: Bryan Finegan, CATIE, Costa Rica, IUFRO Task Force Coordinator
Thursday, 13 June 2013, 14:00-16:00 (Chirripó)
Find more information on the IUFRO Task Force Forests, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services:
The session offered insight into functional ecology, with emphasis on climatic conditions along elevation gradients showing that biodiversity decreases with increasing altitude. It also dealt with the provision of ecosystem services in relation with biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential for pest damage resistance, for example. Source dilution, chemical signals and activity of natural enemies are identified as being essential for ensuring low pest damage. With increased source dilution, pests are less likely to establish themselves in a diverse setting. With increased chemical signals associated with diverse flora, pests are less likely to find their favourite source. And with a high number of natural enemies, whose presence is correlated with high biodiversity, pests are less likely to cause damage. Hence, diversification on a stand/landscape level is needed to ensure the provision of forest ecosystem services.
Plant conservation in Southeast Asia was another topic. In Malaysia, for example, efforts to preserve plants have become a prevalent goal for scientists. Diversity is vast, and since 40 – 50 % of the preserved species are endemic, 24% of which are either endangered (EN) or critically endangered (CR), conservation is a central goal. While the pleas of scientists are being heard in some cases, legal frameworks are needed to protect these species.
A presentation on the carbon sequestration potential for complex mosaic forest landscapes in western Mexico aimed at addressing shifting cultivation, framed in the carbon emission discourse. With shifting cultivation, carbon is released to the atmosphere, adding to GHG concentrations. However, the study showed that on a landscape level, there are no net carbon dioxide emissions, as the carbon sequestration rate of forest re-growth compensates for the carbon emission from shifting cultivation.
The presentation entitled “Native forest cover increase: drivers and implications on ecosystem services”, focused on why some areas in the Piracicaba river basin were allowed to reforest. Satellite imagery helped determine deforestation and reforestation from 1990 – 2010. Having preselected variables, the results demonstrate that natural reforestation occurs when slopes exceed 30%, when water proximity is less than 100 m, when annual rainfall exceeds 1400 mm, when elevation is lower than 400 m below sea level or more than 800 m above sea level, and when vicinity to towns is more than 7 km.
The final paper focused on Chakras, forestry systems that are employed by indigenous peoples in the Amazon. Plant composition in Chakras is heterogeneous; they provide multiple sources of food, are biodiverse and function as stores of carbon. The presented study demonstrated that in Chakras, fauna is more diverse, carbon storage is higher in both biomass and necromass than in comparable Cocoa plantations.
Presentations in this session:
Bosques lluviosos tropicales, biodiversidad y servicios ecosistémicos en la era de cambio global; nuevas perspectivas desde la ecología functional (Bryan Finegan, CATIE, Costa Rica)
Forest biodiversity and resistance to pest damage. (Eckehard Brockerhoff, Scion, New Zealand)
Challenges in Developing Practical Plant Conservation Strategy in SE Asia. (Su See Lee, FRIM, Malaysia)
Carbon sequestration potential for complex mosaic forest landscapes in western Mexico. (Lucia Morales Barquero, Bangor University, UK)
Native forest cover increase: drivers and implications on ecosystem services. (Paulo Molin, Laboratorio de Hidrología Florestal, Brazil)
Variación en el almacenamiento de carbono, conservación de la biodiversidad y productividad en dos sistemas productivos, comparados con bosques primarios en la Amazonia ecuatoriana. (Bolier Torres Navarrete, Universidad Estatal Amazónica, Ecuador)
Forests, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: Charting a new research agenda
By Peter Dewees, Forest Advisor, World Bank
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment defines ecosystem services as the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems. And ecosystem themselves are, speaking in economic terms, an asset, while their services would represent the flow of benefits. So paying for ecosystem services, once the benefits have been valued, has become a topic of interest especially with governments.
Ecosystem services are closely related to poverty alleviation, but it might be just a conventional wisdom to think that the deterioration of ecosystem services automatically leads to an aggravation of poverty. As a matter of fact, there is evidence that human wellbeing has been increasing while the environment and ecosystem services are declining. The Human Development Index illustrates this situation. So what are the underlying causes for this disconnect?
It might be that we are measuring the wrong things and disregard important factors, e.g. the time lag between the decline of ecosystems and the impact.
With regard to forests, global forest cover is declining and forest degradation is increasing for many reasons, yet in some rural landscapes tree numbers are growing. For the farmers, trees are important in many ways. In countries like Kenya, for example, they serve as field boundaries. Trees on farms can increase productivity and thus increase household incomes, they also help build resilience due to diversification of species. Trees on farms can build soil carbon.
So, incorporating trees in land management strategies is an important contribution to climate change mitigation. Consequently, what is really needed is to put in place policies to create incentives for better landscape management. Policies need to be informed by good data, and this is where research comes into the picture and the focus should be on fully recognizing the complexity of landscapes.
The data required should fulfil a set of criteria, of course. They need to be representative, suited for being aggregated, up-to-date, policy relevant and address the right questions.
In conclusion, Dewees particularly points out two research areas that should feature more prominently and deliver good data:
a) The role of household environment income with respect to productivity and consumption; risk and vulnerability; and equality;
b) Policy and public finance with regard to how to support farmer based adaptation and how to identify other points of entry such as social safety nets.