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Ecosystem services provided by black locust (Robinia pseudacacia L.) plantations in South-Western Romania.

Abstract

This paper underlines how black locust plantations play an important part in ensuring forest specific ecosystem services in Oltenia region located in South-Western part of Romania. Forest area in Oltenia region has diminished considerably in the last two centuries, and by the year 2010 it dropped to 5.3% of region area. This phenomenon generated degraded lands (especially "flying" sands) and had a devastating effect on the environmental and social conditions in the region, being further amplified in the last two decades by global climate change. The only efficient measure to reclaim the sandy soil degraded lands was found to be the afforestation with an exotic fast growing species: Robinia pseudoacacia L. Forestry research and practice proved that black locust has the required adaptability to help in the ecological reconstruction of different degraded land types (e.g. "flying sands", ravines, polluted soils and surface mine-lands) as long as its invasive nature is acknowledged. Romanian local communities benefited from the black locust plantations through wood and non-wood products, enhanced agricultural crops protection and also from CO2 sequestration. Considering that in Romania the total area of degraded lands exceeds 2 million hectares, extreme weather is increasing in the South of the country, and the general need for services provided by forests, black locust plantations represent a viable solution for these societal demands.