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Positive biodiversity-productivity relationship predominant in global forests

last modified Jul 04, 2017 09:35 AM

Last week, Tommaso Jucker and David Coomes - along with a team of scholars from 90 institutions around the world - had a paper out in Science exploring the relationship between tree diversity and productivity in the world’s forests (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6309/aaf8957). The project, which was coordinated by Jingjing Liang, Peter Reich, and Thomas Crowther, consolidated field-based forest inventory data from 777,126 permanent plots across the world, and discovered a globally consistent positive effect of tree species diversity on forest productivity. This relationship revealed that continued biodiversity loss would result in an accelerating decline in forest productivity worldwide.

The team has estimated that the economic value of biodiversity in maintaining commercial forest productivity alone to be USD$166–490 billion per year, which more than doubles the total estimated cost that would be necessary if we were to effectively conserve all terrestrial ecosystems at a global scale. This finding highlights the need for a worldwide re-assessment of biodiversity values, forest management strategies, and conservation priorities. The paper is accompanied by a short video aimed at a general audience which was developed by Minute Earth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c80oLYvr9ck).

The research marks the first major accomplishment of the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative (GFBI) project. Established in 2016, GFBI is an international, interdisciplinary, and multi-stakeholder research collaborative that aims at better understanding broad-scale patterns and processes associated with the planet's four billion hectares of forested ecosystems. For details, visit http://www.GFBinitiative.org.