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Articles containing the keyword 'human influence'.

Category: Review article

article id 36, category Review article
Tuomo Wallenius. (2011). Major decline in fires in coniferous forests – reconstructing the phenomenon and seeking for the cause. Silva Fennica vol. 45 no. 1 article id 36. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.36
Steep decline in forest fires about a century ago occurred in coniferous forests over large areas in North America and Fennoscandia. This poorly understood phenomenon has been explained by different factors in different regions. The objective of this study is to evaluate the validity of the four most commonly suggested causes of the decrease in forest fires: fire fighting, over-grazing, climate change and human influence. I compiled the available dendrochronological data and estimated the annually burned proportions of Pinus-dominated forests in four subcontinental regions during the past 500 years. These data were compared to the development of fire suppression, grazing pressure, climate and human livelihoods. The annually burned proportions declined over 90% in all studied regions. In three out of the four regions fires decreased decades before fire suppression began. Available drought data are annually well correlated with fires but could not explain the decrease of the level in annually burned areas. A rapid increase in the number of livestock occurred at the same time with the decrease in fires in the Western US but not in Fennoscandia. Hence, fire suppression in Central Fennoscandia and over-grazing in the Western US may have locally contributed to the reduction of burned areas. More general explanation is offered by human influence hypothesis: the majority of the past forest fires were probably caused by humans and the decrease in the annually burned areas was because of a decrease in human caused fires. This is in accordance with the old written records and forest fire statistics. The decrease in annually burned areas, both in Fennoscandia and the United States coincides with an economic and cultural transition from traditional livelihoods that are associated with high fire use to modern agriculture and forestry.
  • Wallenius, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Vantaa Research Unit, Vantaa, Finland ORCID ID:E-mail: tuomo.wallenius@metla.fi (email)

Category: Discussion article

article id 270, category Discussion article
Seppo Rouvinen, Jari Kouki. (2008). The natural northern European boreal forests: unifying the concepts, terminologies, and their application. Silva Fennica vol. 42 no. 1 article id 270. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.270
Recent emphasis on conserving the biodiversity has stressed the value of natural ecosystems in saving the species from extinction. In the Fennoscandian region the conifer-dominated boreal forests form the largest single ecosystem. The forests have been under varying intensity of human influence for decades or centuries. Recent attempts have tried to seek the last remaining natural forests to be included in the protection programmes. However, due to long and widespread human influence, finding and defining the natural forests has proven to be extremely difficult, not only because they are so rare but also because the concept of natural forest is vague. These difficulties are partly seen through the diverse terminology used. We first review the varying terminology as seen in recent studies. Secondly, we propose the basis for defining the natural forest and show some intriguing and challenging difficulties are involved in the concept. These difficulties are at least partly related to inherent strong and long-term dynamic component in boreal forest ecosystems that is manifested over several temporal and spatial scales. Finally, we outline a more general terminology with associated indicators and measurements that might be used in the classification and terminology. Conceptual clarification is necessary, for example, to compile ecologically justified and representative global, national and regional forest statistics. Many currently applied definitions of “forest” and “natural” that are applied in the context of forest statistics overlook ecologically important components of natural forests, and thus provide quite misleading or inadequate data of existing diversity patterns in these ecosystems.
  • Rouvinen, University of Joensuu, Faculty of Forest Sciences, P.O. Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland ORCID ID:E-mail:
  • Kouki, University of Joensuu, Faculty of Forest Sciences, P.O. Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland ORCID ID:E-mail: jari.kouki@joensuu.fi (email)

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