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Coniferous forest biome : ecosystem analysis, proposal for 1973 and 1974 : Volume 1 Public Deposited

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  • This proposal by the Coniferous Forest Biome investigators requests support for the third and fourth years of a highly integrated series of investigations within the Ecosystem Analysis program of the United States effort under the International Biological Program. The program for the Coniferous Forest Biome has been approved by the U.S. Executive Committee for the IBP as an integrated research program in cooperation with other programs in progress or under development for the Ecosystem Analyses program. The proposed study is one of five that will collectively form a reference modeling system to cover the important ecosystems of North America. Coniferous forests occupy about one-third of the land area of the western United States, including Alaska. The products from this land area, such as wood, water, forage, fish, and wildlife, are most important to the physical and economic well-being of the nation. In addition, large areas are used for diverse recreational purposes by increasing numbers of people. The capacity of coniferous forest land to produce various goods and services varies greatly from area to area. Arguments about the management of these lands have been prominent in the literature of land management sciences (such as forestry and fisheries) and ecology for many years. These debates highlight problems such as single- versus multiple-purpose use, the balance between various uses, the land's basic productive capacity, and management procedures best suited to maintaining and increasing productive capacity. More recently, fundamental questions have been raised about the impact of widespread and previously accepted practices, such as clearcutting in forest harvesting, on environmental quality and long-term productive potential of coniferous forest land. Urban spread is also affecting rather large acreages of coniferous forest and the best way to combine people and forests must be answered. We believe that a better understanding of the forest ecosystem, which is the goal of this proposal, will provide a basis for more intelligent management and use of these lands and thereby will have important social consequences. In light of the seriousness of the questions raised, the research proposed can therefore claim an urgency as well as scientific and practical values. The total ecology of the coniferous forest is rather poorly understood, and coniferous forest ecological theory is not well developed. Certainly more theory must evolve from Coniferous Forest Biome research in order to provide a sound base for solving current and future problems and for basic education purposes.
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