OJE  Vol.4 No.16 , December 2014
A Multiscale Assessment of the Risks Imposed by Plantation Forestry on Plant Biodiversity in the Hotspot Central Chile

We assessed the effects of plantations of exotic trees (Pinus radiata, Eucalyptus globulus, and Populus nigra) on plant biodiversity in the temperate zone of the biodiversity hotspot of Central Chile. This region has suffered from intense deforestation in favor of plantation establishment in the major part of the coastal area since the neoliberal turn in 1973. The approach presented aimed to analyze plant biodiversity on the α-, β- and γ-scale. Furthermore, a plantation evaluation index was applied in order to provide quantitative figures on management practices. Species richness is reduced by 50% below plantations. Diversity and evenness index values are also significantly reduced. Analyses on β-similarity indicate that plantations do not host species absent in adjacent native forests, and no additional habitat heterogeneity is gained. On the γ-scale, plantations lower the number of total species observed; especially of endemic species. The abundance of species considered as invasive is significantly higher and frequently, invasive plants dominate the understory. The evaluation index attests rather poor plantation management in Central Chile since plantations are grown as monocultures, natural elements and native species are lacking at specific sites and plantations are insufficiently connected to native plant formations at the landscape scale. Results give much concern since deforestation processes as observed in our study area is about to begin in Patagonia as well. If management practices from the temperate zone are adopted in Patagonia, a considerable decline in plant biodiversity has to be expected there.

Cite this paper: Braun, A. and Vogt, J. (2014) A Multiscale Assessment of the Risks Imposed by Plantation Forestry on Plant Biodiversity in the Hotspot Central Chile. Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 1025-1044. doi: 10.4236/oje.2014.416085.

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