Evaluating the effectiveness of retention forestry to enhance biodiversity in production forests of Central Europe using an interdisciplinary, multi-scale approach.
ABSTRACT: Retention forestry, which retains a portion of the original stand at the time of harvesting to maintain continuity of structural and compositional diversity, has been originally developed to mitigate the impacts of clear-cutting. Retention of habitat trees and deadwood has since become common practice also in continuous-cover forests of Central Europe. While the use of retention in these forests is plausible, the evidence base for its application is lacking, trade-offs have not been quantified, it is not clear what support it receives from forest owners and other stakeholders and how it is best integrated into forest management practices. The Research Training Group ConFoBi (Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-use Landscapes of Central Europe) focusses on the effectiveness of retention forestry, combining ecological studies on forest biodiversity with social and economic studies of biodiversity conservation across multiple spatial scales. The aim of ConFoBi is to assess whether and how structural retention measures are appropriate for the conservation of forest biodiversity in uneven-aged and selectively harvested continuous-cover forests of temperate Europe. The study design is based on a pool of 135 plots (1 ha) distributed along gradients of forest connectivity and structure. The main objectives are (a) to investigate the effects of structural elements and landscape context on multiple taxa, including different trophic and functional groups, to evaluate the effectiveness of retention practices for biodiversity conservation; (b) to analyze how forest biodiversity conservation is perceived and practiced, and what costs and benefits it creates; and (c) to identify how biodiversity conservation can be effectively integrated in multi-functional forest management. ConFoBi will quantify retention levels required across the landscape, as well as the socio-economic prerequisites for their implementation by forest owners and managers. ConFoBi's research results will provide an evidence base for integrating biodiversity conservation into forest management in temperate forests.
Project description:Industrial forestry typically leads to a simplified forest structure and altered species composition. Retention of trees at harvest was introduced about 25 years ago to mitigate negative impacts on biodiversity, mainly from clearcutting, and is now widely practiced in boreal and temperate regions. Despite numerous studies on response of flora and fauna to retention, no comprehensive review has summarized its effects on biodiversity in comparison to clearcuts as well as un-harvested forests. Using a systematic review protocol, we completed a meta-analysis of 78 studies including 944 comparisons of biodiversity between retention cuts and either clearcuts or un-harvested forests, with the main objective of assessing whether retention forestry helps, at least in the short term, to moderate the negative effects of clearcutting on flora and fauna. Retention cuts supported higher richness and a greater abundance of forest species than clearcuts as well as higher richness and abundance of open-habitat species than un-harvested forests. For all species taken together (i.e. forest species, open-habitat species, generalist species and unclassified species), richness was higher in retention cuts than in clearcuts. Retention cuts had negative impacts on some species compared to un-harvested forest, indicating that certain forest-interior species may not survive in retention cuts. Similarly, retention cuts were less suitable for some open-habitat species compared with clearcuts. Positive effects of retention cuts on richness of forest species increased with proportion of retained trees and time since harvest, but there were not enough data to analyse possible threshold effects, that is, levels at which effects on biodiversity diminish. Spatial arrangement of the trees (aggregated vs. dispersed) had no effect on either forest species or open-habitat species, although limited data may have hindered our capacity to identify responses. Results for different comparisons were largely consistent among taxonomic groups for forest and open-habitat species, respectively. Synthesis and applications. Our meta-analysis provides support for wider use of retention forestry since it moderates negative harvesting impacts on biodiversity. Hence, it is a promising approach for integrating biodiversity conservation and production forestry, although identifying optimal solutions between these two goals may need further attention. Nevertheless, retention forestry will not substitute for conservation actions targeting certain highly specialized species associated with forest-interior or open-habitat conditions. Our meta-analysis provides support for wider use of retention forestry since it moderates negative harvesting impacts on biodiversity. Hence, it is a promising approach for integrating biodiversity conservation and production forestry, although identifying optimal solutions between these two goals may need further attention. Nevertheless, retention forestry will not substitute for conservation actions targeting certain highly specialized species associated with forest-interior or open-habitat conditions.
Project description:Retention forestry implies that biological legacies like dead and living trees are deliberately selected and retained beyond harvesting cycles to benefit biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. This model has been applied for several decades in even-aged, clearcutting (CC) systems but less so in uneven-aged, continuous-cover forestry (CCF). We provide an overview of retention in CCF in temperate regions of Europe, currently largely focused on habitat trees and dead wood. The relevance of current meta-analyses and many other studies on retention in CC is limited since they emphasize larger patches in open surroundings. Therefore, we reflect here on the ecological foundations and socio-economic frameworks of retention approaches in CCF, and highlight several areas with development potential for the future. Conclusions from this perspective paper, based on both research and current practice on several continents, although highlighting Europe, are also relevant to other temperate regions of the world using continuous-cover forest management approaches.
Project description:The ecological impacts of changing forest management practices in Europe are poorly understood despite European forests being highly managed. Furthermore, the effects of potential drivers of forest biodiversity decline are rarely considered in concert, thus limiting effective conservation or sustainable forest management. We present a trait-based framework that we use to assess the detrimental impact of multiple land-use and management changes in forests on bird populations across Europe. Major changes to forest habitats occurring in recent decades, and their impact on resource availability for birds were identified. Risk associated with these changes for 52 species of forest birds, defined as the proportion of each species' key resources detrimentally affected through changes in abundance and/or availability, was quantified and compared to their pan-European population growth rates between 1980 and 2009. Relationships between risk and population growth were found to be significantly negative, indicating that resource loss in European forests is an important driver of decline for both resident and migrant birds. Our results demonstrate that coarse quantification of resource use and ecological change can be valuable in understanding causes of biodiversity decline, and thus in informing conservation strategy and policy. Such an approach has good potential to be extended for predictive use in assessing the impact of possible future changes to forest management and to develop more precise indicators of forest health.
Project description:There are only few studies that explore the ecological consequences of forest management on several organism groups. We studied the short-term effects of four forestry treatments including preparation cutting, clear-cutting, retention tree group and gap-cutting in a temperate managed forest on the assemblage structure of understory plants, enchytraeid worms, spiders and ground beetles. Here we show, that the effect of treatments on the different facets of assemblage structure was taxon-specific. Clear-cutting and retention tree group strongly impoverished enchytraeids assemblages. Even if the species richness and cover of plants increased in clear-cutting and gap-cutting, their species composition moderately changed after treatments. For spiders only their species composition was influenced by the treatments, while the response of ground beetles was slightly affected. Short-term effect of forest management interventions on biodiversity might be compensated by the dispersal (spiders, ground beetles) and resilience (plants) of organism groups, however sedentary soil organism showed high sensitivity.
Project description:Strategies to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions through forestry activities have been proposed, but ecosystem process-based integration of climate change, enhanced CO2, disturbance from fire, and management actions at regional scales are extremely limited. Here, we examine the relative merits of afforestation, reforestation, management changes, and harvest residue bioenergy use in the Pacific Northwest. This region represents some of the highest carbon density forests in the world, which can store carbon in trees for 800 y or more. Oregon's net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB) was equivalent to 72% of total emissions in 2011-2015. By 2100, simulations show increased net carbon uptake with little change in wildfires. Reforestation, afforestation, lengthened harvest cycles on private lands, and restricting harvest on public lands increase NECB 56% by 2100, with the latter two actions contributing the most. Resultant cobenefits included water availability and biodiversity, primarily from increased forest area, age, and species diversity. Converting 127,000 ha of irrigated grass crops to native forests could decrease irrigation demand by 233 billion m3?y-1 Utilizing harvest residues for bioenergy production instead of leaving them in forests to decompose increased emissions in the short-term (50 y), reducing mitigation effectiveness. Increasing forest carbon on public lands reduced emissions compared with storage in wood products because the residence time is more than twice that of wood products. Hence, temperate forests with high carbon densities and lower vulnerability to mortality have substantial potential for reducing forest sector emissions. Our analysis framework provides a template for assessments in other temperate regions.
Project description:With growing demands on forests, there is a need to understand the drivers of managing the forest for diverse objectives, such as production, recreation, and climate adaptation. The aim of this study was to examine the knowledge and value basis of forest management behaviors, including different management strategies and management inactivity, among private forest owners in Sweden. Different dimensions of knowledge (declarative and procedural knowledge, assessed in terms of objective and subjective knowledge measures) and value priorities (basic values and forest values), as well as the role of forest owner identity, were examined. The study was conducted by means of a postal questionnaire to a random sample of private forest owners in Sweden (n?=?3000, response rate 43%). The distinctions between actual knowledge (objective knowledge), confidence (subjective knowledge), and value priorities, in addition to the hierarchical structure of how these factors are linked to management behaviors, proved to be valuable. Results revealed that different knowledge dimensions and value priorities were jointly important for forest management behaviors. In addition, the role of forest owner identity for management behaviors was confirmed. Insights from the study may be used to develop policy and outreach to private forest owners and thereby facilitate different forest functions in private forestry.
Project description:Late-spring frosts (LSFs) affect the performance of plants and animals across the world's temperate and boreal zones, but despite their ecological and economic impact on agriculture and forestry, the geographic distribution and evolutionary impact of these frost events are poorly understood. Here, we analyze LSFs between 1959 and 2017 and the resistance strategies of Northern Hemisphere woody species to infer trees' adaptations for minimizing frost damage to their leaves and to forecast forest vulnerability under the ongoing changes in frost frequencies. Trait values on leaf-out and leaf-freezing resistance come from up to 1,500 temperate and boreal woody species cultivated in common gardens. We find that areas in which LSFs are common, such as eastern North America, harbor tree species with cautious (late-leafing) leaf-out strategies. Areas in which LSFs used to be unlikely, such as broad-leaved forests and shrublands in Europe and Asia, instead harbor opportunistic tree species (quickly reacting to warming air temperatures). LSFs in the latter regions are currently increasing, and given species' innate resistance strategies, we estimate that ?35% of the European and ?26% of the Asian temperate forest area, but only ?10% of the North American, will experience increasing late-frost damage in the future. Our findings reveal region-specific changes in the spring-frost risk that can inform decision-making in land management, forestry, agriculture, and insurance policy.
Project description:Plantation and secondary forests form increasingly important components of the global forest cover, but our current knowledge about their potential contribution to biodiversity conservation is limited. We surveyed understory plant and carabid species assemblages at three distinct regions in temperate northeastern China, dominated by mature forest (Changbaishan Nature Reserve, sampled in 2011 and 2012), secondary forest (Dongling Mountain, sampled in 2011 and 2012), and forest plantation habitats (Bashang Plateau, sampled in 2006 and 2007), respectively. The ?-diversity of both taxonomic groups was highest in plantation forests of the Bashang Plateau. Beetle ?-diversity was lowest, but plant and beetle species turnover peaked in the secondary forests of Dongling Mountain, while habitats in the Changbaishan Nature Reserve showed the lowest turnover rates for both taxa. Changbaishan Nature Reserve harbored the highest proportion of forest specialists. Our results suggest that in temperate regions of northern China, the protected larch plantation forest established over extensive areas might play a considerable role in maintaining a high biodiversity in relation to understory herbaceous plant species and carabid assemblages, which can be seen as indicators of forest disturbance. The high proportion of phytophagous carabids and the rarity of forest specialists reflect the relatively homogenous, immature status of the forest ecosystems on the Bashang Plateau. China's last remaining large old-growth forests like the ones on Changbaishan represent stable, mature ecosystems which require particular conservation attention.
Project description:Forestry may cause adverse impacts on water quality, and the forestry planning process is a key factor for the outcome of forest operation effects on stream water. To optimise environmental considerations and to identify actions needed to improve or maintain the stream biodiversity, two silvicultural water management tools, BIS+ (biodiversity, impact, sensitivity and added values) and Blue targeting, have been developed. In this study, we evaluate the links between survey variables, based on BIS+ and Blue targeting data, and water chemistry in 173 randomly selected headwater streams in the hemiboreal zone. While BIS+ and Blue targeting cannot replace more sophisticated monitoring methods necessary for classifying water quality in streams according to the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD, 2000/60/EC), our results lend support to the idea that the BIS+ protocol can be used to prioritise the protection of riparian forests. The relationship between BIS+ and water quality indicators (concentrations of nutrients and organic matter) together with data from fish studies suggests that this field protocol can be used to give reaches with higher biodiversity and conservation values a better protection. The tools indicate an ability to mitigate forestry impacts on water quality if the operations are adjusted to this knowledge in located areas.
Project description:Mortality is a key indicator of forest health, and increasing mortality can serve as bellwether for the impacts of global change on forest ecosystems. Here we analyze trends in forest canopy mortality between 1984 and 2016 over more than 30 Mill. ha of temperate forests in Europe, based on a unique dataset of 24,000 visually interpreted spectral trajectories from the Landsat archive. On average, 0.79% of the forest area was affected by natural or human-induced mortality annually. Canopy mortality increased by?+2.40% year-1, doubling the forest area affected by mortality since 1984. Areas experiencing low-severity mortality increased more strongly than areas affected by stand-replacing mortality events. Changes in climate and land-use are likely causes of large-scale forest mortality increase. Our findings reveal profound changes in recent forest dynamics with important implications for carbon storage and biodiversity conservation, highlighting the importance of improved monitoring of forest mortality.