Current issue: 56(4)
Under compilation: 57(1)
Strong wind is the major natural disturbance in European forests, that periodically causes tremendous damages to forestry. Yet, factors that affect the probability of wind damage for birch (Betula pendula Roth and B. pubescens Ehrh.), the most common deciduous tree species in hemiboreal forests, are studied scarcely. This study aimed to assess the effects of several tree- and stand-scale variables on the probability of wind damage to birch using data from the Latvian National Forest Inventory (2004–2018), and determine individual tree characteristics that affect the height of the stem breakage. The data analysis was done using the Bayesian binary logistic generalized linear mixed-effects model and a linear mixed-effects model. The probability of wind damage significantly increased by stand age, basal area, and slenderness ratio. Trees with prior damage had a significantly higher probability (odds ratio 4.32) for wind damage. For wind-damaged trees, the snapping height was significantly decreased by an increase in the slenderness ratio (p = 0.03) and prior damage (p = 0.003). Previously damaged trees were more frequently (73%) snapped in the lowest 40% of tree height than trees without prior damage (54%). The probability of wind damage is largely set by factors related to the selection of site, species composition, and rotation. The damage probability could be decreased by management measures that lower competition within the stand with particular regard to preserving intact remaining trees during these manipulations. Factors that reduce the probability of the damage simultaneously increase the snapping height, emphasizing their relevance for mitigation of the wind damages.
Fire is a common disturbance in boreal forests causing changes in biological diversity at various spatial scales. In the past 100 years, forest management has limited fire outbreaks, but in the future, the fire-affected forest area is expected to increase in many regions due to climate change. Burned forests are typically salvage-logged, but the effect of this type of management versus natural regeneration on biological diversity is not well understood, particularly the mid-term effect to tree establishment and understory vegetation composition and diversity. Various management methods were used after a large fire in 1992 in a peatland-forest complex and neighbouring managed forests, which created an experimental setup for study of the effect of management after fire in the Sliteres National park, northwestern Latvia. Understory vegetation was described in plots using a design of four forest and three management types: natural regeneration (unmanaged) and managed sites with salvage logging followed by no further human intervention and salvage logging with planting. Post-fire management had different effect in each forest type. Species richness was higher in forest types with salvage logging than in natural regenerated sites on rich wet and rich dry forest types, but not for the poor forest types. Tree regeneration was generally greater in salvage-logged stands, but differed between forest types. Species composition was related to tree regeneration and canopy openness. In contrast to other studies, salvage logging had a positive mid-term effect to ground vegetation diversity and tree establishment in the studied stands, implying potential for concomitant management and conservation of ground cover vegetation in semi-natural stands.
Dwarf shrub layer is an important component of boreal and hemiboreal forest ecosystems that has received little attention, particularly regarding its structural diversity, which, however, could serve as an additional proxy for habitat quality. Dimensions of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) ramets were assessed in two sites in Latvia covered by dry oligotrophic Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stands 10–230 years of age. In total, 20 sampling plots (10×10 m) with 156 subplots (1×1 m) were sampled and 630 bilberry ramets analysed. The dimensions of ramets (age, diameter, and height) and cover of bilberry increased with stand age. The age of the studied ramets ranged 2–13 years; 5–6 years-old ramets were most frequent in all stands. The skewness of the distribution of the ramet dimensions shifted with stand age, leaning towards the higher values. Lower structural diversity of ramets was observed in stands 50–100 years of age. The highest diversity of ramet age structure occurred in stands younger than 150 years, whereas the oldest and largest ramets mostly occurred in the older stands (>150 years). Considering structural diversity of ramets, recovery of bilberry after stand-replacing disturbance (e.g. clearcut) was a continuous process, similarly to that observed in tree layer.