Forest biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services

 

Eckehard G. Brockerhoff • Luc Barbaro • Bastien Castagneyrol • David I. Forrester • Barry Gardiner • Jose´ Ramo´n Gonza´lez-Olabarria • Phil O’B. Lyver • Nicolas Meurisse • Anne Oxbrough • Hisatomo Taki • Ian D. Thompson • Fons van der Plas • Herve´ Jactel, Biodivers Conserv (2017) 26:3005–3035

 

Forests are critical habitats for biodiversity and they are also essential for the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services that are important to human well-being. There is increasing evidence that biodiversity contributes to forest ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services. Here we provide a review of forest ecosystem services including biomass production, habitat provisioning services, pollination, seed dispersal, resistance to wind storms, fire regulation and mitigation, pest regulation of native and invading insects, carbon sequestration, and cultural ecosystem services, in relation to forest type, structure and diversity. We also consider relationships between forest biodiversity and multifunctionality, and trade-offs among ecosystem services. We compare the concepts of ecosystem processes, functions and services to clarify their definitions. Our review of published studies indicates a lack of empirical studies that establish quantitative and causal relationships between forest biodiversity and many important ecosystem services. The literature is highly skewed; studies on provisioning of nutrition and energy, and on cultural services, delivered by mixed-species forests are under-represented. Planted forests offer ample opportunity for optimising their composition and diversity because replanting after harvesting is a recurring process. Planting mixed-species forests should be given more consideration as they are likely to provide a wider range of ecosystem services within the forest and for adjacent land uses. This review also serves as the introduction to this special issue of Biodiversity and Conservation on various aspects of forest biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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