Avoiding ecosystem collapse in managed forest ecosystems

TitleAvoiding ecosystem collapse in managed forest ecosystems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsLindenmayer, D
Secondary AuthorsMessier, C
Tertiary AuthorsSato, C
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Start Page561
Keywordstechnical reports and journal articles

Many forest ecosystems are thought to be at risk of ecological collapse, which is broadly defined as an abrupt, long-lasting, and widespread change in ecosystem state and dynamics that has major negative impacts on biodiversity and key ecosystem services. However, there is currently a limited ability to accurately predict the risk of collapse for a given forest ecosystem. Moreover, how ecosystem collapse manifests itself will be ecosystem specific, as will be the associated mitigation strategies. In light of these challenges, we present a checklist of 11 practical principles to help managers reduce the risk of ecosystem collapse. These principles include developing a robust definition of collapse that is appropriate for a given ecosystem, managing for multiple ecosystem stressors under increasing uncertainty, adopting conservative approaches to management that account for potential losses of timber resources and limit the risk of overharvesting, and conducting long-term monitoring to gather data on key ecosystem attributes sensitive to ecological change.