Role of eucalypt and other planted forests in biodiversity conservation and the provision of biodiversity-related ecosystem services.
Forests provide important habitat for much of the world's biodiversity, and the continuing global deforestation is one of our greatest environmental concerns. Planted forests represent an increasing proportion of the global forest area and partly compensate for the loss of natural forest in terms of forest area, habitat for biodiversity and ecological function. At current rates, over 30% of the remaining natural forest area will be lost by the end of the century and planted forests would then represent over 20% of the total forest area. This places a greater demand on planted forests to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and their provision of biodiversity-dependent ecosystem services. We reviewed recent trends of deforestation, afforestation and reforestation to evaluate the effects on forest biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. We placed particular emphasis on eucalypt plantations which continue to expand in numerous countries, especially in Brazil where rapid plantation expansion is creating the largest area of cultivated eucalypt forest worldwide. While government policies to associate plantation establishment with the protection and restoration of natural forests appear to be effective in the highly fragmented Atlantic forest, deforestation continues in Amazonia, mainly due to forest conversion associated with agricultural expansion. We conclude by reviewing methods for conserving biodiversity in planted forests at the stand- and landscape scales and with a view to enhancing the provision of biodiversity-related ecosystem services.