Isabella De Meo
Ecosystem services (ES) are known as the direct and indirect benefits of ecosystems to human well-being. Maintaining and balancing the ES supplied by forests requires thorough assessment and evaluation at different spatial and temporal scales. Moreover forest management choices and strategies are able to influence forest structures by means of silvicultural treatments (forest system; rotation age and thinning regime) and affect ES provision. According the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), four groups of ES can be defined: (1) provisioning services (timber, bioenergy, water and food production); (2) regulating services (carbon sequestration, water regulation, natural hazards protection); (3) cultural services (social, historical and spiritual values); (4) supporting services (plant production, nutrient cycling). Many studies highlighted the key contribution to timber and bioenergy production of planted forests but also their ES provisioning at a global scale has been recently stressed. In the framework of planted coniferous forests are characterized by a low biodiversity level, mechanical and ecological instability and susceptibility to biotic and abiotic diseases which can contribute to a general status of forests’ degradation. As a consequence, the ecosystem functionality can be compromised and the provision of ecosystem services reduced. In these contexts, ecological restoration of planted coniferous forests is a key point to improve the ecosystem services delivery. Restoration strategies and guidelines can be defined by forest managers through decision-making processes and the involvement of stakeholders and local communities.