Indicators of biodiversity for ecologically sustainable forest management

David B. Lindenmayer*, Chris R. Margules, Daniel B. Botkin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    711 Citations (Scopus)


    The conservation of biological diversity has become one of the important goals of managing forests in an ecologically sustainable way. Ecologists and forest resource managers need measures to judge the success or failure of management regimes designed to sustain biological diversity. The relationships between potential indicator species and total biodiversity are not well established. Carefully designed studies are required to test relationships between the presence and abundance of potential indicator species and other taxa and the maintenance of critical ecosystem processes in forests. Other indicators of biological diversity in forests, in addition or as alternatives to indicator species, include what we call structure-based indicators. These are stand-level and landscape-level (spatial) features of forests such as stand structural complexity and plant species composition, connectivity, and heterogeneity. Although the adoption of practices to sustain (or recreate) key characteristics of forest ecosystems appear intuitively sensible and broadly consistent with current knowledge, information is lacking to determine whether such stand- and landscape-level features of forests will serve as successful indices of (and help conserve) biodiversity. Given our limited knowledge of both indicator species and structure-based indicators, we advocate the following four approaches to enhance biodiversity conservation in forests: (1) establish biodiversity priority areas (e.g., reserves) managed primarily for the conservation of biological diversity; (2) within production forests, apply structure-based indicators including structural complexity, connectivity, and heterogeneity; (3) using multiple conservation strategies at multiple spatial scales, spread out risk in wood production forests; and (4) adopt an adaptive management approach to test the validity of structure-based indices of biological diversity by treating management practices as experiments. These approaches would aim to provide new knowledge to managers and improve the effectiveness of current management strategies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)941-950
    Number of pages10
    JournalConservation Biology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000


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