Future landscapes: opportunities and challenges


The global magnitude of degraded and deforested areas is best approached by restoring landscapes. Heightened international perception of the importance of forests and trees outside forests (e.g., woodlands, on farms) demands new approaches to future landscapes. The current need for forest restoration is two billion ha; most opportunities are mosaic restoration in the Tropical and Temperate Zones where human pressure is moderate. A rapidly changing global environment introduces uncertainty, however, that questions the usefulness of success criteria based on present or past ecosystems conditions. Considerable uncertainty arises from future climate and the timing of significant departures from current conditions, social system responses to drivers of global change, and ecosystem responses to changes in coupled socio-ecological systems. Three active approaches to reducing vulnerability and increasing adaptive capacity (incremental, anticipatory, transformational adaptation) differ in their future orientation but share similar objectives of favoring genotypes adapted to future conditions; resisting pathogens; managing herbivory to ensure adequate regeneration; encouraging species and structural diversity at the stand-level, landscape-level, or both; and providing connectivity and reducing fragmentation. Integrating attempts to restore landscapes and mitigate and adapt to climate change may synergistically increase adaptive capacity. Behavioral, institutional, and/or social barriers to implementing change can stop or delay adaptation. Stratagems for overcoming these barriers include conducting ‘‘risky’’ research that pushes the bounds of knowledge and practice and developing plant materials adapted to future conditions.

  • Citation: Stanturf, John A. 2015. Future landscapes: opportunities and challenges. New Forests [Online]. Published 12 July 2015. 30 p. 10.1007/s11056-015-9500-x
  • Keywords: functional restoration, adaptation, climate change, socio-ecological systems
  • Posted Date: August 19, 2015
  • Modified Date: June 24, 2020
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