Considering evolutionary processes in adaptive forestry

Lefevre, F. et al. | Annals of Forest Science | 2014 | Peer Reviewed | Methodological article| Original research |


Managing forests under climate change requires adaptation. The adaptive capacity of forest tree populations is huge but not limitless. Integrating evolutionary considerations into adaptive forestry practice will enhance the capacity of managed forests to respond to climate-driven changes. Focusing on natural regeneration systems, we propose a general framework that can be used in various and complex local situations by forest managers, in combination with their own expertise, to integrate evolutionary considerations into decision making for the emergence of an evolution-oriented forestry. We develop a simple process-based analytical grid, using few processes and parameters, to analyse the impact of forestry practice on the evolution and evolvability of tree populations. We review qualitative and, whenever possible, quantitative expectations on the intensity of evolutionary drivers in forest trees. Then, we review the effects of actual and potential forestry practice on the evolutionary processes. We illustrate the complexity of interactions in two study cases: the evolutionary consequences for forest trees of biotic interactions and of highly heterogeneous environment. Evolution-oriented forestry may contribute adapting forests to climate change. It requires combining short-term and long-term objectives. We propose future lines of research and experimentation.