The magnificent stands of old-growth trees that characterize the forests of western North America depend on periodic fires for their creation or survival. Deprived of that essential disturbance process eventually they die, leaving an overcrowded growth of smaller trees vulnerable to intense blazes and epidemics of insects and disease.
In Mimicking Nature's Fire, forest ecologists Stephen Arno and Carl Fiedler present practical solutions to the pervasive problem of deteriorating forest conditions in western North America. Advocating a new direction in forest management, they explore the promise of "restoration forestry" -- an ecologically based approach that seeks to establish forest structures in which fire can once again serve as a beneficial process rather than as a destructive aberration.
The book begins with an overview of fundamentals: why traditional forestry tried to exclude fire from forests, why that attempt failed, and why foresters and ecologists now recognize the need for management based on how natural ecosystems operate. Subsequent chapters consider: how fire's historic role provides a foundation for designing restoration strategies; why a hands-off approach will not return forests to their historical condition; how management goals influence the strategies used in restoration forestry.
The second part of the book presents case studies of restoration projects in the western United States and Canada, representing different forest types, different historic fire regimes, and contrasting management goals. For each project, the authors describe why and how the project is being conducted, profile forest conditions, and describe methods of treatment. They also report what has been accomplished, identify obstacles to restoration, and offer their candid but understanding evaluation. Mimicking Nature's Fire concludes by placing restoration forestry in the broad context of conserving forests worldwide and outlining factors critical for its success.
For decades, conservation and research initiatives in tropical forests have focused almost exclusively on old-growth forests because scientists believed that these “pristine” ecosystems housed superior levels of biodiversity. With Second Growth, Robin L. Chazdon reveals those assumptions to be largely false, bringing to the fore the previously overlooked counterpart to old-growth forest: second growth.
Even as human activities result in extensive fragmentation and deforestation, tropical forests demonstrate a great capacity for natural and human-aided regeneration. Although these damaged landscapes can take centuries to regain the characteristics of old growth, Chazdon shows here that regenerating—or second-growth—forests are vital, dynamic reservoirs of biodiversity and environmental services. What is more, they always have been.
With chapters on the roles these forests play in carbon and nutrient cycling, sustaining biodiversity, providing timber and non-timber products, and integrated agriculture, Second Growth not only offers a thorough and wide-ranging overview of successional and restoration pathways, but also underscores the need to conserve, and further study, regenerating tropical forests in an attempt to inspire a new age of local and global stewardship.