Scattered Trees: a complementary strategy for facilitating adaptive responses to climate change in modified landscapes?
Manning, A D, Gibbons, P, Lindenmeyer, D B. 2009. Scattered trees: a complementary strategy for facilitating adaptive responses to climate change in modified landscapes? Journal of Applied Ecology. 46 915-919.
The authors present an overview of the value of having scattered trees (or isolated trees, remnant trees, etc...) throughout a landscape to facilitate species movements and ecosystem adaptation to climate change. Essentially, the argument is that having a system of reserves may prove to be insufficient for effective adaptation to climate change because species movements will be hampered by a highly fragmented landscape. Scattered trees in agriculatural land or land that has otherwise been cleared for some other use will provide a kind of buffer and corridor for species movements. Additionally, scattered trees can have a mitigating influence on whatever potential deleterious effects may be caused by alternative uses of the land, and thus allow a greater flexibility for changing land use in the future. For example, small groups of trees maintained in a matrix of agriultural fields would be readily available as a seed source should the land be abandoned in the future.
Basically, it is a way of maintaining some minimal level of structural complexity that would allow for greater flexibility in conservation strategies, or stated differently, it is a way of incorporating non-reserve land into a conservation strategy.
I found the article to be informative and interesting, but would have liked a little more specific information on what constitutes an effective 'scattered tree' environment. How many trees are required to fulfill the desired effects? Also, in some cases, it seems like it would require significant government intervention in private land use...it would be interesting to hear some discussion of how this might be implemented on a larger scale.
image: logo for the Association of Temperate AgroForestry