Current issue: 53(4)
The article is a review on shifting cultivation, its methods and use in Finland, and its effect on the condition of forests. Shifting cultivation decreases forest reserves not only by burning large amounts of wood. Of the area used for shifting cultivation, 10-50% can be open land. The older age classes of forests are often missing, and range of tree species shift towards deciduous trees. This causes lack of large timber. The shorter the rotation, the less well the most valuable trees survive on the area. One reason is lack of seed trees. Of the coniferous trees, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) is able to survive in the burnt-over lands better than Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.), because it can produce seeds at a relatively young age. Betula sp. and especially grey alder (Alnus incana (L.) Moench) regenerate well on burnt-over lands. Also the frequency of good seed years determine which tree species become the dominant species on a burnt-over site.
When shifting cultivation is abandoned, deciduous trees keep their advantage over coniferous trees, because the wood of coniferous trees is used more in the surrounding villages. Pine and spruce spread to the burnt-over areas from the poorer sites that often had remained unburned. In densely populated areas in some counties in Savo in eastern Finland, where shifting cultivation was practiced intensively, Norway spruce became rare. Dominant tree species in the burnt-over areas became birch and pine.The article is divided in two parts. A German summary is included in a separate PDF