A research led by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) proposes a methodology to establish a ranking of sustainability of the forest plantations that integrates the preferences of the agents.
The sustainability of any forest plantation can be measured through a heterogeneous set of criteria and indicators. Based on this premise, a research led by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) has proposed a methodology to establish a classification that integrates the preferences of the various agents related to the management of these forest systems. The authors, including members of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the University of Extremadura, also explain in their work the causes that justify the sustainability achieved by each plantation.
The research process
The research team selected 48 forest plantations located in Galicia. In total, more than 8,200 hectares, with different types of owner (private, communal, forest industry). To determine its sustainability, 9 indicators were used related to environmental, economic and social criteria. The team contacted 45 individuals or entities (owners, technicians, ecologists, forestry associations, researchers and the forest industry) to indicate through a survey aspects such as the importance they attached to each of these indicators.
Photo: Magazine “La Voz de Galicia”
Although it is now acknowledged that the problem is not to veto certain fast-growing plantations but to provide the means for them to be located in suitable areas, such studies can help to select the most sustainable a priori areas for Develop these forest systems
With all the information collected, the researchers have designed the methodology to establish a ranking of sustainability that integrates the preferences of the actors involved. These preferences reveal a greater weight of economic indicators than those of social and environmental nature.
The research team has also defined a set of variables to explain the causes of the level of sustainability of each plantation. By statistical techniques, some are more important than others. Thus, of the seven variables analyzed, there is a significant relationship between the eucalyptus area in each plantation and the distance to the pulp mills, so that the greater one and the other, the lower the sustainability. On the other hand, it is striking that forest certification is not one of those significant variables.
The reasons that led to this research are for social purposes
The authors emphasize the social importance of their research due to the controversies that generate certain plantations in Spain. In addition, this methodology can be extended to all types of forestry and, in general, agricultural systems. “Although it is now acknowledged that the problem is not to veto certain fast-growing plantations but to provide the means for them to be located in suitable areas, such studies can help to select the most sustainable a priori areas for Develop these forest systems”, says professor Luis Diaz Balteiro. “In addition, the results provide indications on possible actions in each of the plantations if the sustainability ranking obtained was to be improved.”
Source: DIAZ-BALTEIRO, L., ALFRANCA, O., BERTOMEU, M., EZQUERRO, M., GIMÉNEZ, J.C., GONZÁLEZ-PACHÓN, J., ROMERO, C., 2016. Using quantitative techniques to evaluate and explain the sustainability of forest plantations. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 46: 1157-1166.
Images: Magazine “La Voz de Galicia”