Ecoforestry has been defined as selection forestry or restoration forestry. The main idea of ecoforestry is to maintain or restore the forest to standards where the forest may still be harvested for products on a sustainable basis. Ecoforestry is forestry that emphasizes holistic practices which strive to protect and restore ecosystems rather than maximize economic productivity. Sustainability of the forest also comes with uncertainties. There are other factors that may affect the forest furthermore than that of the harvesting. There are internal conditions such as effects of soil compaction, tree damage, disease, fire, and blow down that also directly affect the ecosystem. These factors have to be taken into account when determining the sustainability of a forest. If these factors are added to the harvesting and production that comes out of the forest, then the forest will become less likely to survive, and will then become less sustainable.
Since the forest is considered an ecosystem, it is dependent on all of the living and non-living factors within itself. This is a major part of why the forest needs to be sustainable before it is harvested. For example, a tree, by way of photosynthesis, converts sunlight to sugars for respiration to keep the tree alive. The remains of the converted sugars is left in roots for consumption by the organisms surrounding the tree in the habitat. This shows the productivity of an ecosystem with its inhabitants. Productivity within the ecosystem cannot come to fruition unless the forest is sustainable enough to be harvested. If most individual organisms of the ecosystem vanish, the ecosystem itself is at risk. Once that happens, there is no longer any forest to harvest from. The overall productivity of a system can be found in an equation where the Net Primary Production, or NPP, is equal to the Gross Primary Production, or GPP, minus the Respiration, or R. The formula is the NPP = GPP - R. The NPP is the overall efficiency of the plants in the ecosystem. Through having a constant efficiency in NPP, the ecosystem is then more sustainable. The GPP refers to the rate of energy stored by photosynthesis in plants. The R refers to the maintenance and reproduction of plants from the energy expended.
Ecoforestry has many principles within the existence of itself. It covers sustainable development and the fair harvesting of the organisms living within the forest ecosystem. There have been many proposals of principles outlined for ecoforestry. They are covered over books, articles, and environmental agencies. All of the principles relate to the idea that in ecoforestry, less should be harvested, and diversity must be managed. Through harvesting less, there is enough biomass left in the forest, so that the forest may stay healthy and still stay maintained. It will grow at a sustainable level annually, and thus it will be able to still be harvested the following year. Through management of the diversity, species may cohabitate in an ecosystem where the forest may feed off of other species in its growth and production. The Principles of Ecoforestry may be found below.
The principles of ecoforestry are:
|1||One must consider retention. It must be the first consideration in any planned removal of trees from a stand. By placing retention at the beginning of a planned removal, one makes sure that they know what must be left to ensure the protection of such things as rare species, sites of native cultural significance, riparian zones.|
|2||Riparian zones should not be touched. It is a sensitive area, thus tree removal should not occur there. This protects the water quality. Water quality is protected by not altering the drainage pattern of the zones. No tree removal should take place in the most sensitive areas.|
|3||The composition and structures should be upheld so that forests may fully function. This may be subject to large old trees, snags, and large fallen trees. These pieces of the ecosystem are upheld through letting them grow and die out into a timber extraction area.|
|4||When removing trees, the lowest impact should be used. This means not compacting the soil in the forest and building small or no roads if at all possible. This takes away the disturbance that would be done to the foundation of the forest’s grounds.|
|5||Plan in terms of the needs of the larger watershed. The watershed zone plan designates areas where tree removal is not permitted. It also designates the areas where removal is possible, and the different types of removal available.|
|6||Prohibit clear cutting. Clear cutting is not ecologically correct. There are methods for cutting trees to maintain structure, and to allow the trees to cohabitate in a healthy ecosystem.|
|7||Select trees as candidates for removal by considering how abundant and redundant their structures and functions are to the rest of the forest as a whole, leaving potential wildlife trees (to become snags and coarse woody debris).|
|8||The forest should be allowed to regenerate trees through the seeds from the trees in the logged areas. This allows tree planting to be taken out of the ecoforestry principles, allowing a natural regeneration.|
|9||Ecological succession should be kept at all times. This will protect biological diversity. This even means eliminating the process of brush control.|
|10||No slash burning. Fire may be used as a tool in landscapes that have a history of naturally occurring fires. Although this may be true, fire should still be used with caution.|
|11||No pesticide use. The forest needs disease, insects, and shrub/herb vegetation. They are essential parts of a fully functioning forest, even though they involve the forest’s decay in some cases. They are natural parts that allow the ecosystem to operate as a whole.|
|12||Maintain and restore topsoil quality. This can be done through leaving sufficiently coarse and small debris on the forest grounds.|
|13||Maintain beauty and other natural aesthetic qualities in the visual, sound, and odor landscapes. This includes not taking away the wildlife, the plants, or structural layout of the ecosystem.|
|14||Always look at the forest as a whole. Each part of the forest contributes to its overall needs and health. That is how the forest would have survived without human interference.|
|15||Rely more on people and markets. Use accounting and budgeting as a solution to rely less on the destruction or harvesting from the forests.|
|16||Don’t do wrong. If it feels wrong, then it is probably wrong. Don’t allow ignorance to persevere. Recognize that the ecosystem needs tending to. If the forest is not preserved, then it cannot be harvested forever.|