Do temperate forests exhibit stability in terms of cover, biodiversity and function in the carbon cycle What is causing temperate forests to decline if it is indeed in equilibrium with climate
The article "Forests and climate change" (FAO Corporate Document Repository) states that forests serve an important function in the environmental balance as a carbon pool. A carbon pool is the storage area where carbon dioxide is released or stored. The rate of exchange normally depends on the life cycle of the forest elements. Ideally, the forests are in a state of a perpetual carbon sink, which is defined as a system in which there is more carbon going in than out.
Equally admirable is when the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere is equal to the amount of carbon released back into the environment. Unfortunately, especially since the Industrial revolution, this balance has been upset to an increasing degree until the effects of the climate system imbalance has become too severe to be ignored.
There have been several efforts in limiting, and hopefully eventually eradicating, this imbalance, with minimal success. One of the more seemingly ecologically correct notions is to implement forest management policies to preserve existing forests and to extend its area through afforestation.
Dudley states the preservation of the old temperate forests would be of benefit to the ecology. However, he further implies that the establishment of newer, faster-growing but ecologically unfit forests would be detrimental to the cause of ecological salvaging.
Characteristics and Types of Temperate Forests
Temperate forests are found mainly in western and central Europe, the eastern side of North America and northeastern Asia. These are scattered all over the middle and high latitudes although very few of them are large.
Of the global temperate forests, Dudley estimates that 41% of are to be found in Siberia, 31% in the US and Canada, and the remaining 27% in Australasia, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
WWF (October 19, 2006) divides temperate forests into coniferous forests, mixed coniferous/broadleaved forests and broadleaved forests. Temperate rainforests, so called because of its excessive amount of rainfall, is mainly coniferous; deciduous forests where leaves are shed during winter, sport broadleaved trees which react easily to changes in temperature; Mediterranean scrublands feature small oak and pine trees.
Temperate forests, according to the University of California Museum of Paleontology (1994-2007), thrive in temperatures ranging from -30 to 30 C with rainfall levels ranging from 75-150 cm spread evenly throughout the year. It is not as dense as tropical forests, allowing an appreciable amount of light to filter through and exhibits a diverse mix of fauna and flora.
Biodiversity in Temperate Forests
The preservation of biodiversity is one of the main concerns in the preservation of temperate forests. Although occupying a total land area less than that of tropical forests, the variety of species existing within temperate forests of equal size outstrip those found in its warmer counterparts. This is explained in part because of the climatic