Five megatrends for next decade of forestry

Wednesday 16 Dec 2020

A group of experts from academic, governmental and international organisations have identified five large-scale 'megatrends' affecting forests and forest communities, published today in Nature Plants. These are likely to have major consequences -- both positively and negatively -- over the coming decade.

Around the world, 1.6 billion people live within 5km of a forest, and millions rely on them for their livelihoods, especially in poorer countries. They are also home to much of the world's biodiversity and regulate key aspects of the carbon cycle. In short, forests are vital in global and national efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, and eradicate hunger and poverty.

Despite their importance, research on forests and livelihoods to date has mainly focused on understanding local household and community-level dynamics. Identifying the links between human and natural systems at the regional and global scales is critical for future policy and action.

The five trends revealed by the research are:
1. Forest megadisturbances - Droughts and excessive precipitation are increasing forests' susceptibility to diseases and human-induced wildfires and floods -- this is leading to defoliation, tree mortality and declines in forest productivity at unprecedented scales, and there is increasing evidence that forest disturbance can result in the emergence of diseases with the ability to spread globally.

So, applying that global thinking to our local situation we can see there is some substance in this predictions as we can see increased effects locally in the rain events in New Zealand and the forest fire events of recent times in Australia. So this research is onto something.

Watch this space, as in coming weeks we will expand on the other four trends highlighted below:

2. Changing rural demographics
3. The rise of the middle class
4. Use of digital technologies
5. Infrastructure development

More >>

Source: University of Manchester

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