Production forestry in riparian zones: examples from Brazil, USA, Germany and Australia

Production forestry in riparian zones: examples from Brazil, USA, Germany and Australia

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.