Fact or Fiction? – Pine forests are barren monocultures

We often hear claims that pine forests are "ecological deserts" and bad for biodiversity.

Recent published research in New Zealand, found that between 15 and 25% of respondents to a survey were unsure whether plantation pine forests harboured rare or threatened native plants, native mammals (bats), native bush reserves or even native fish.

In fact, pine forests are relatively diverse ecosystems - it is just the canopy that is one species. As part of an ongoing research programme into measuring biodiversity within plantations Scion Research Ltd found that in the plantation forests there were,"…279 plant species, 26 bird species and 469 beetle species (see Beetles Living it Up in the Forest, Wood Matters Issue 36). The species recorded amount to 8.3% and 18.3% of the total described New Zealand native plant and native bird terrestrial fauna respectively."

In New Zealand most large forest companies are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) environmentally certified. Many have programmes assisting with the protection of threatened kiwi, falcon, kokako, bats, frogs, native fish and unique plant and wetland communities in and around their estates. These forests have at least 10% and usually much more of their total estate under various forms of protection.

Are pine forests barren monocultures?