By now you have read a considerable amount in this book about the importance of a holistic, or integrative approach to the conservation of biodiversity in sustainable forest management. These approaches to forestry are advanced under the assumption that if a complete array of functioning ecosystems is maintained, then all species will be present on the landscape. However, forest and wildlife managers must frequently make decisions based on individual species. The two approaches, holistic and species-oriented, are not mutually exclusive and actually complement one another by focusing efforts at multiple scales. Regardless of how a ‘biodiversity management program’ is designed, the end result must be assessed primarily in terms of the conservation of species.
Within any political jurisdiction (at all scales, from country to local municipality) certain species will receive more attention from managers than others, for a variety of reasons. Some species may have attracted the interest of the public because they are rare, attractive, or culturally or economically important. Many species have value as indicators of a particular condition (such as old-growth forests) and are monitored by managers because they are good barometers of ecosystem health. Species selected for monitoring and study as indicator species are chosen with a view to indicating functioning of forest ecosystems, and because they themselves may play critical roles in forested systems (i.e., keystone species). As an example, a breeding population of a particular woodpecker species may indicate sufficient dead or dying trees in a forest type or age class to support many of the species that use these structures (Angelstam and Mikusinski 1994).
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