Landscape ecology is an emerging discipline that aims to understand the environmental processes and patterns inﬂuencing habitats and species beyond the site level. It arose independently in the latter part of the twentieth century in central and Eastern Europe and in North America as geographers, planners, and ecologists began to push the boundaries of their subject interests in the search for integrated approaches to land management of sensitive areas. They combined intellectual forces in the International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE), formed in 1982. Landscape ecology is based on the initial premise that a landscape can be viewed as a series of patches within an overall background matrix; taken together, patches and matrix make up a heterogeneous landscape mosaic. The signiﬁcance for forestry is that it can take the focus up a level from the management of stands within a forest to forests within a landscape. Each forest or woodland can be viewed as a patch, within a matrix of other land use. The power of landscape ecology is that its principles can apply at vastly different scales, depending on the landscape or the research question. It has been used equally effectively by natural resource managers in conservation planning of large protected areas such as watersheds or national parks and by those undertaking local-scale restoration projects consisting of a few sites. In Europe the challenge is often to mitigate the effects of development, but landscape ecology can be used more proactively to design for conservation and related beneﬁts.
[...] If the surrounding matrix is an adverse environment for species dispersal, the landscape is described as ‘resistant.' It is unlikely that the matrix is made up of one land use and so this heterogeneity must be analyzed to identify the key contributors to resistance where feasible. Resistance can potentially be improved by altering the intensity of the land use adjacent to the forest or by planting different vegetation between wooded patches, but often such intervention is out with the scope of a forest manager. [...]
[...] This concept has been widely applied to habitat fragments on the assumption that they function like islands surrounded by a ‘sea' of more hostile environment. However, it has not generally proved to be a useful tool for predicting species diversity in habitat patches within a matrix of other land uses. This is because the community of species in a patch of habitat will be strongly inﬂuenced by the nature of the landscape around it and the sorts of species that inhabit that landscape. [...]
[...] Landscape ecology is a broad discipline, with spatial planning at its heart, but it is much more than just mapping, as its twin concern is the time dimension of both natural and human-induced effects. Timescales from hours to years are used to understand more fully the effects of landscape- scale processes such as habitat fragmentation, loss, or restoration. In multifunctional landscape management many concerns can be taken on board in an approach based on landscape ecology, although there are criticisms that, because it is focused primarily on biodiversity issues, it currently fails to elaborate or model fully socioeconomic and cultural issues. [...]
[...] However, empirical studies have shown that it is often the structure of the entire landscape matrix (the ‘habitat network') that determines whether organisms can move. Many organisms can migrate through a landscape using a variety of habitats that they would not live in. Conversely, the provision of habitat corridors does not guarantee movement. Patches that are physically linked by a narrow corridor may not be connected for an organism that only occupies forest interior habitats. Indeed, it has even been proposed that corridors may facilitate colonization by invasive species and species tolerant of disturbed conditions. [...]
[...] Landscape ecology has highlighted the importance of making sure that land use policies are aligned across owners and government agencies when sustainability is an essential goal. Edge Effects As patch size decreases so a progressively larger proportion of the remaining forest is inﬂuenced by edge effects. These can include increases in light and temperature and decreases in humidity. Increases in light have often been found to result in higher density and faster growth of natural regeneration of light-demanding trees along forest edges but also in the proliferation of herb and vine species. [...]
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