The Challenges of Non-timber Forest Ecosystem Services Approach

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Forest ecosystems services emerge and replace timber as a focus point of forest management. Eftec (2005) defines forest ecosystems service as benefits from forest to support human life through such natural processes, for example, in regulating air, water, and nutrient cycles, stabilizing microclimate, and preventing droughts and floods. This approach then emphasize on how to maintain all natural processes within the forest to sustain their natural product such as water, fresh air, and fruits, instead of focusing on sustaining the products itself, especially on timber. Timber extraction activities commonly neglect other features such as wild animal, under storey vegetation, thus obviously affect to ecosystem balances, and prevent them to function well. Furthermore, wood-based approach leads to misinterpretation on forest that sees the value of forests only from commercial wood. After extracting wood, forests tend to be converted to other profitable land use, and cause more deforestation. In their report, Food and Agriculture Organization (2010) says that global forests’ loss due to conversion to other use and natural causes reached 13 million hectare per annum in the last decade, equal to 36-football field per minute. Nevertheless, Polasky (2011) explain that at least there are three challenges in mainstreaming this approach namely how to understand the concept, how to estimate the value of services, and how to endorse stakeholders’ engagement. To examine Polasky’s ideas, this essay will describe a brief concept of forest ecosystem services, identify some main services provided by forest, and present some challenges in promoting ecosystem services as a key point of forest management.

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