Production Forestry in Riparian Zones: Examples from Brazil, USA, Germany and AustraliaProduction Forestry in Riparian Zones: Examples from Brazil, USA, Germany and Australia

Philip Smethurst - 2004

I visited Brazil, USA and Germany to document examples of production forestry being conducted in riparian zones or stream side reserves, particularly in cleared agricultural landscapes.

In Brazil, stream side reserves have been declared for all rural lands and have been implemented in the forested landscape already, but the agricultural landscape is in desperate need of such measures. Because harvesting is forbidden in such reserves, one perverse outcome is already evident, i.e. harvesting of non-native eucalypts is not allowed, yet it would probably be economic and environmentally favourable in many instances. Such regulations also discourage riparian forestry in the agricultural landscape, despite its potentially favourable impact on water quality.

In the US and Germany, active management of riparian zones is taken for granted, albeit with special care for soil and water values. There are many examples from both countries of wood production from riparian zones while soil and water values are protected. Such practices include a range of silvicultural practices, including cultivation, weed control, fertilization, pruning, thinning and harvesting.

Riparian forestry in the agricultural landscape in these two continents is likely to increase during the next decade as regulatory measures are taken to improve water quality and other aspects of stream ecosystems, e.g. as required by the EU Water Framework Directive.

In Victoria, Australia, there is already an excellent example of riparian forestry, but it is unclear why such practices are not adopted more widely by other farmers in that state.

In several other Australian states, riparian forestry in the agricultural landscape is likely to enhance environmental outcomes, but the codes of forest practice need to be revised to encourage this activity.

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