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ISRN Forestry
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 629523, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/629523
Review Article

Review of Plant Species Diversity in Managed Forests in Japan

Forest Research Division, Yamanashi Forest Research Institute, Fujikawa, Yamanashi 400-0502, Japan

Received 12 March 2012; Accepted 3 May 2012

Academic Editors: T. Heinken, L. Pinkard, and P. Smethurst

Copyright © 2012 Takuo Nagaike. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The effects of conifer plantation management and forest fragmentation on plant species diversity in Japan were reviewed. While most studies have demonstrated that the practice of thinning in coniferous plantations can enhance species diversity of naturally regenerated trees, such as broad-leaved trees, some have shown that thinning reduces plant species diversity through the direct physical disturbance to forests. In addition, plant species diversity in plantations has also been shown to be dependent on the distance from seed sources. Extensive forest fragmentation due to land use changes has occurred, particularly in forests near urban and suburban areas. Although the number of species per unit area in abandoned coppice forests is not clearly related to the extent of forest fragmentation, most species attributes (such as rare species) are negatively influenced by forest fragmentation. Some of the forests owned by shrines and temples in urban areas are similar to island forests and are relatively well protected from human disturbance. To more clearly understand and evaluate changes in biodiversity through forest management, elucidating the interactions between management and plant species diversity, species composition, and the ecological traits of various species is therefore necessary.