Pine forest, Öje, Dalarna (Foto: DS)

Research shows that loss of biodiversity is a problem of the same magnitude as climate change because the Earth's biodiversity is fundamental to human survival. In order to get food, water and other resources and to handle our waste we have to be part of a well-functioning ecosystem. Ecosystems with low species-diversity are less resilient - they do not cope well with change, e.g. climate warming.

Threats to biodiversity and to climate are coupled - plantations, advocated for by the forestry industry, are more vulnerable to climate change (and disturbances in general, like storms or insect outbreaks). Climate change in itself is a threat to biodiversity, for instance in mountainous areas. A further example is that the fungal mycorrhiza networks in an old forest store much more carbon than does a plantation. Plantations are more vulnerable to insect outbreaks and fir trees in particular are more prone to windfalls.

Dead wood, both on the ground and standing trunks (image) are crucial for maintaining biodiversity because they can function as "homes" for animals or substrates for fungi. Therefore forests have to be part of a larger network at the landscape level. Habitat fragmentation which is a characteristic for intensive forestry can lead to extinction of species in the long run of in particular rarer species that often have vulnerable ecosystem functions. Read more on biodiversity here.

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