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Mr Himlal Baral

Mr Himlal Baral

PhD student

Topic: Trade-offs between timber and other ecosystem services from planted forests

The University of Melbourne


With the exponential growth in plantation estates and ongoing decline of natural forests, there is an increasing focus on the role of plantations in conserving biodiversity and other ecosystem services. Managing forest plantations for multiple values requires trade-offs given realities of limited resources and the competing demands of modern society. Trade-offs occur when the provision of one ecosystem service is reduced due to the increased use of another ecosystem service – for example increased timber harvest impacts biodiversity values, visual quality, and water quality.

Trade-offs in ecosystem services can be classified along three axes: (a) spatially – location of trade-offs, (b) temporally – timing of trade-offs, and (c) reversibility – the possibility of perturbed ecosystem services returning to an improved state.

Typically, trade-offs between timber and other ecosystem services arise from management choices that change the nature, magnitude and direction of services provided by ecosystems. In plantation forestry, management objectives are typically influenced by economic criteria. To this end, trade-offs usually rely on cost-benefit analysis or alternatively more general multiple criteria analyses for economic valuation of biodiversity and other environmental values.

My project looks at various ways of integrating timber production with the conservation of other ecosystem services at the landscape scale. The major research questions to be addressed are:

· What are the roles of plantation systems in providing and maintaining ecosystem services at a landscape scale?

· What are the trade-offs and synergies?

· How can such services be balanced?

To achieve this, I plan to use GIS and related technologies for the inventory and mapping of ecosystem services. Environmental value transfer methods will be used to quantify dollar values of ecosystem services. Biophysical and ecosystem service valuation data will be integrated into GIS to produce various land cover maps. The total value of each land use type will be calculated and by adding up the individual ecosystem services value associated with each cover type, an average ecosystem services value map will be produced. The ecosystem service value map will be used to analyse the trade-off between timber and ecosystem services. Finally, scenario analysis will be conducted by changing input values that will simulate how the provision of ecosystem services would change under alterative management scenarios. Such simulations can be used as a tool to assist with resource planning and management decisions.

Before I started this project I completed my Masters degree in Forest Science from The University of Melbourne and I was involved with a variety of forest resource planning and management roles in Asia and the Pacific.

My supervisors are Dr Sabine Kasel, Prof Rod Keenan, Dr Julian Fox , and Prof Nigel Stork from University of Melbourne. My PhD is funded and supported by the University of Melbourne, the CRC for Forestry.

My PhD studies contribute to Research Programme Four (Trees in the Landscape) of the CRC for Forestry, under the Biodiversity project 4.2.

To browse other PhD projects available with Research Programme Four click here.

To view my university web page please click here.

A map of the greater Green Triangle area is available on an external site.