This project aimed to integrate strategic multifunctional forestry planning with on-site demonstrations of best practices for the sustainable management of commercial and public welfare forests in China. As such, the project, which ran from 2017 to 2022, was located on Wanzhangshan Forest Farm (WZSFF) in Pu’er, Yunnan Province, a subtropical area that is not only ideal for demonstrating best practices for China but also due to its location in the South of China for the entire Greater Mekong Subregion.
Developing a multifunctional forest management plan
As forestry planning is the first step to realizing sustainable forest management, the project started with developing a medium-term (2017 -2036) Master Plan of Integrated Forest Ecosystem Management and a more specific short-term (2020-2029) Multifunctional Forest Management Plan (MFMP) for WZSFF. After taking stock of the existing forest resources at the forest farm, these plans outlined the management of the farm’s forests to both maximize the sustainable productivity of commercial forests and improve forest ecosystem services provided by public welfare forests. Based on the current forest condition combined with forest management objectives, the MFMP sub-divided the forests area of WZSFF into six different forest management zones 1) a Timber Production Zone; 2) an Ecological Use Zone; 3) a Nature Reserve Zone; 4) an Arboretum Zone; 5) a Recreation and Urban Forestry Zone; and 6) a Research and Demonstration Zone.
APFNet holds the idea that multifunctionality is deeply embedded in the nature of forests, and forests could and should be managed with multiple purposes as objectives in mind. The MFMP gives guidance for all types of forests at WZSFF based on management objectives for the entire forest life cycle. The associated forest management and silviculture practices are selected based on the forest management zone, the forest type, and which age group the stand belongs to. It is estimated that with 10 years of MFM, the stocking volume of the forests at WZSFF could increase from 1.87 million m3 to 2.16 million m3 with unit stocking volume reaching 150 m3/ha.
Optimizing the forest management practices
Pinus kesiya and Betula alnoides are two common local species at WZSFF. However, due to the lack of effective silvicultural practices, the stocking volume and timber productivity of both species are far from satisfying, nevertheless, even the natural secondary forests of these two species also display these issues.
To solve this, different demonstration plots were established to showcase best practices for managing both commercial and public welfare forests of these two species. This was an important distinction, as these are the two key administrative forest types in China, each of which has its purposes and management restrictions. Specifically, the models for each forest governance type were shown for Pinus kesiya and Betula alnoides, for different age groups. This included methods for intensive thinning, large-diameter tree cultivation of commercial plantations to maximize the land productivity and profitability, as well as the integrated management of public welfare forests to maintain and improve the ecological functions, protect biodiversity, provide forest ecosystem services for public welfare and meet the needs for the sustainable development of human society. In addition, how to treat natural secondary forests and how to integrate understory planting of epiphytes were also demonstrated in the public welfare forests.
As resin tapping from Pinus kesiya can be an important opportunity to increase the profitability of pine forests, also, these trees are often commercially tapped for resin before the harvest of the tree for timber. This process can be done sustainably for years if tapped correctly, unfortunately in practice, due to a lack of knowledge of proper techniques, as well as in pursuit of short-term benefits, resin tapping is done excessively in some resin production areas of Pu’er. Therefore, the APFNet project established a sustainable resin production demonstration site in a Pinus kesiya plantation, not only to demonstrate the silvicultural techniques for managing resin production plantations but also to showcase effective resin tapping techniques in terms of collection method, collection volume, and collection intensity.
The project was part of a whole series of integrated forest ecosystem management planning and demonstration projects funded by APFNet, all of which are aiming to demonstrate how such forestry practices can be realized in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Additionally, the project was located in areas belonging to APFNet’s newest integrated training base, the APFNet Pu'er Sustainable Forest Management Demonstration and Training Base, which was formally opened in July 2021 and now serves as a training and forest experience base for practitioners involved in tropical and subtropical forest management. The demonstration sites of the project will provide important learning sites for training.
More information on the specific techniques showcased in this project and other projects located at Pu’er Base can be found in APFNet’s latest book “Exploring Sustainable Forest Management with APFNet in Pu’er”.