What is Analog Forestry?
Analog Forestry is an approach to ecological restoration which uses natural forests as guides to create ecologically stable and socio-economically productive landscapes.
Analog Forestry is a complex and holistic form of silviculture, which minimizes external inputs, such as agrochemicals and fossil fuels, instead fostering ecological function for resilience and productivity.
Analog Forestry values not only ecological sustainability, but recognizes local rural communities’ social and economic needs, which can be met through the production of a diversity of useful and marketable goods and services, ranging from food to pharmaceuticals and fuel to fodder.
Three central concepts guide the Analog Forestry approach
Mimicking Natural Forests
Natural forests provide many fundamental ecosystem functions: protecting watersheds, controlling erosion, regulating climate, cycling nutrients, and providing biodiversity habitat. Analog Forestry seeks to establish ecosystems with architectural structures and ecological functions similar to the original climax (mature) or sub-climax vegetation; that is, an analog ecosystem. Useful non-native species are often incorporated in place of structurally analogous native species, to enhance natural forest functions and provide for human needs.
Analog Forestry works alongside ecological succession to eventually create stable tree-dominated ecosystems. For example, Analog Forestry is often applied to the restoration of degraded agricultural land or pasture, beginning with early colonizer and sun-loving species, before progressing to a more mature forest structure, providing socio-economically valuable products throughout the process.
In order to conserve biodiversity, landscape ecology must be taken in to consideration. By looking at land use and bio-geographic patterns across a landscape, one can identify opportunities to enhance landscape connectivity or protect rivers with Analog Forestry, for instance through the creation of biological corridors or forest buffer areas.