Current issue: 54(2)
We studied the spatial decomposition rates of standardised organic substrates in soils (burned boreal pine-dominated sub-xeric forests in eastern Finland), with respect to charred and non-charred coarse woody debris (CWD). Decomposition rates of rooibos plant litter inside teabags (C:N = 42.870 ± 1.841) and pressed-sheet Nordic hardwood pulp (consisting of mainly alpha-cellulose) were measured at 0.2 m distance from 20 charred (LC0.2) and 40 non-charred logs (LNC0.2). We also measured decomposition at 60 plots located 3–10 m away from downed logs (L3,10). The rooibos decomposition rate constant ‘k’ was 8.4% greater at the LNC0.2 logs than at the L3,10 or LC0.2 logs. Cellulose decomposed more completely in 1 micron mesh bags at LNC0.2 (44% of buried bags had leftover material) than at LC0.2 (76%) or L3,10 (70%). Decomposition of cellulose material was rapid but varied greatly between sampling plots. Our results indicate that decomposition of the standardised organic matter was more rapid close to CWD pieces than further away. However, only the plots located near non-charred logs (LNC0.2) exhibited high decomposition rates, with no corresponding increase observed at the charred logs (LC0.2). This suggests a possible noteworthy indirect effect of forest burning on soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition rates close to charred CWD after forest fires. We urge for more studies on this tentative observation as it may affect the estimates on how fires affect carbon cycling in forests.
Prescribed burning is a common silvicultural practice in northern Europe, intended to destroy the slash and ground vegetation and to reduce the thickness of the raw humus layer prior reforestation. The purpose of the experiments was to study whether there are any differences in the commencement and early development of mycorrhizal infection between burned and unburned areas. A clear-cutting area was burned on May 1961. The soil was rocky moraine, the forest type was Vaccinium type. Two weeks after burning Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) was sown in patches.
According to the results, mycorrhizal infection took place on the unburned area earlier than on the burned. The difference was relatively small, perhaps 1–2 weeks. Although burning kills mycorrhizal fungi, it did not cause serious harm to the seedlings, on the contrary, the favourable influence of burning was more distinct. The high temperatures caused by the fire are restricted in the soil in a prescribed burning only a few centimetres deep. Although the mycorrhizal fungi are concentrated in a very thin surface layer of the soil, some mycorrhizae are situated deeper, and from there the fungi are able to infect roots and spread back to the surface layer. The fire also rises the pH of the soil, which can be harmful for mycorrhizal fungi. Even this effect, however, is limited to a thin surface layer.
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Prescribed burning has been used in regeneration areas in Finland as a method to treat the humus layer and creating more favourable chemical, physical and biological conditions for the seedlings. At the same time, fire clears away seedlings and shoots of unwanted trees and other vegetation. Direct sowing or planting, mostly Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), seldom natural regeneration, is used. In this paper, the initial stages of the formation of a new tree generation of Scots pine and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) on prescribed burned areas is studied in Central Finland in 1956–1960.
The burned area remains almost without vegetation for about two growing seasons. Conditions on a burned area which has not been tiled are very unfavourable for germination of seeds of coniferous and deciduous trees. On the other hand, shoots of deciduous trees occur soon after burning. Conditions for regeneration were found to be better 3–5 years after burning. Removal of humus layer in spots improved regeneration. However, the patches facilitated also natural regeneration of Norway spruce and especially birch (Betula sp.), which compete with Scots pine seedlings.
Continuous rainy periods improved the germination of Scots pine and Norway spruce seeds sown on the humus layer. Pine and spruce developed more rapidly on the exposed soil, however, young seedlings were easily destroyed. Seed eaters destroyed the pine and spruce seeds sown on the humus layer of newly burned areas completely or almost completely. The viability of pine seeds sown on the burned humus layer did not decrease for three weeks, but the viability greatly weakened after six or more weeks. Spruce seeds lost their viability faster than pine seeds.
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Prescribed burning has been used to treat the mineral soil sites, but the method has been little used in drained peatlands. The course and methods of prescribed burning in drained peatlands, and the effect of burning on sprouting of broadleaved trees, growth of ground vegetation and regeneration of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) by sowing was studied in drained pine bogs in Southern Finland. The top layer of the peat was mostly Sphagnum peat. The material included a prescribed burned 12 ha drained peatland area in Tuomarniemi district, in addition to which ten previously burned areas were investigated.
The burning had succeeded mostly well, but also unsuccessfully burned sites were observed. Estinguishing of the fire was easy, and no peat fires occurred. The fire burned only the logging residue, ground vegetation and the dry top layer of the peat. The roots of brushwood and grasses survived in the peat that insulated the top layer from the heat. For instance, the abundance of cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus L.) increased after the fire. Similarly, burning did not affect sprouting of the stumps of downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.). It cannot thus be used as a method to restrict the growth of coppice in regenerated areas. The seeds of Scots pine germinated well on the burned surface. 46% of the seeds developed to seedlings on sphagnum-shrub vegetation and 16% in feathermoss-shrub vegetation.
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Nearly every forest land in Finland has been burnt down by a wildfire at least once during the past 400–500 years. Slash and burn cultivation (1700–1920) was practised on 50–75 percent of Finland's forests, while prescribed burning (1920–1990) has been applied to 2–3 percent of the country's forests. Because of land-use changes and efficient fire prevention and control systems, the occurrence of wildfires in Finland has decreased considerably during the past few decades. Owing to the biodiversity and ecologically favourable influence of fire, the current tendency is to revive the use of controlled fire in forestry in Finland. Prescribed burning is used in forest regeneration and endeavours are being made to revert old conservation forests to the starting point of succession through forest fires.
The prescribed burning of a 7.3 ha clear-cut and a 1.7 ha partially cut forest (volume 150 m3/ha) was carried out in Evo (61 °12'N, 25°07'E) on 1 June 1992. The forest was a mesic Myrtillus site type forest dominated by Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.). Practically all the trees and the above-ground parts of the understorey vegetation died in the fire, while the mor layer was thinned by an average of 1.5 cm.
A study was made on the change of germinated seedling population in time and their dependence on environmental factors. Seedlings of Norway spruce, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), pubescent birch (B. pubescens Ehrh.) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) were inventoried in 1993 and in 1994 on permanent plots, four times per growing season. Autoregression models were used to compare regeneration of tree species in the burned forest with regeneration in the burnt clear-cut area, and to study the effect of distance from nearest seed source to regeneration.
The average number of seedlings germinating in 1993 was higher than in 1994, probably because of differences between these consecutive years in regard to the amount of seed rain and weather conditions. The number of Norway spruce and rowan seedling was higher inside the forest area than in the clear-cut area. The distance to the bordering forest and to the closest seed tree did not explain the result. It is suggested that the more stable microclimatic conditions under the shade of dead tree promote germination and seedling establishment in the forest area. As rowan is a bird-dispersed species, it is likely that dead trees help the dispersal of rowan seed by providing birds place to sit and defecate. The shade provided by dead trees may influence the further succession of the tree stand and vegetation composition and diversity.
The occurrence of Caleopsis bifida on clear-cut and burned forest soil and its disappearance in 4–6 years after disturbance is attributed to its germination ecology. Initially the seeds are dormant 96–100% and remain dormant in nylon gaze bags in different types of forest humus layers at least 10 years. Dormancy is released in laboratory (1) by treatment of 100 ppm aqueous solution of GA3, (2) by heating the dormant seeds to 40–55°C for 1–5 h, and (3) by 1% KNO3 solution. It is concluded that conditions in clear-cut and burned areas favour germination of seeds in regard to temperature and content of nitrates in contrast to humus of closed vegetation where the seeds remain dormant.
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The study deals with the interaction of various soil preparation and reforestation methods. The most favourable time of the year for broadcast sowing and the effect of stabilization after soil preparation on restocking were studied as special problems.
Prescribed burning, scalping and disc ploughing made a better combination with sowing than planting, and ploughing better combination with planting than sowing. The longer the period was between sowing and germination the fewer seedlings emerged. The best stocking was clearly resulted with sowing in June. Stabilization of soil after preparation had a negative effect on reforestation results.
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Surface temperature during two prescribed burnings were measured in 1983 in Evo, Southern Finland. Surface temperatures in relation to the amount of slash burned, energy released during the fires, and the fire intensities were studied. The fire intensity was also measured during a third burn. The Lake Nimetön site was burned int the end of May. Due to the uneven distribution of slash, colonization by Calamagrostis arundinacea and the spring moisture, the burning was very uneven. Surface temperatures varied between 410–809°C and the intensity of fire was low (range 0–900 kW/m).
The fire intensity on the other sites burned in May was also low (880 kW/m). During the burn in August the surface temperatures varied between 701–869°C and the intensity of fire was moderate (1,170 kW/m). Slash was burned more evenly and more thoroughly due to the dryness of the site and slash and the fact that grasses and other herbs were not abundant.
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The study area is state owned forest of Vesijako in southern middle Finland that has earlier been intensively managed with slash-and-burn agriculture. Reforestation of broad-leaved forests into coniferous forest with controlled burning has been studied on 76 sample plots.
The article describes the practice of leasing forest stands to leaseholders who executed the controlled burning and forest regeneration and management according a leasing contract. The results of the reforestation with coniferous trees shows that sowed pine (Pinus silvestris) stands give good results but spruce (Picea abies) must be planted as a seedling. For the state this method of forest improvement is cost effective and should be used more widely.
Prescribed burning has reported to avail forest regeneration, for instance, by releasing nutrients for the use of seedlings, changing the pH of the soil and decreasing competition of ground vegetation. The aim of the study was to find out if the effects could be verified. Sample plots were measured in the experimental area of Tuomarniemi, in Central Finland, both in previously burned and untreated seedling stands and young forests. The main species in the sample plots was Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.).
According to the results, prescribed burning prepares the soil for regeneration. Germination percentage of the seeds is higher on the burned soil. All the species, Scots pine, Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and birch species (Betula sp.) grow faster. Prescribed burning increases the amount of birch seedlings by improving its regeneration compared to unburned sites. The seed trees survive burning better if they are tall and have short crown, and have thick bark. In general, prescribed burning improves regeneration in seed tree stands.
The article includes a summary in German.