article id 6985, category Commentary
Special issue: Drought and Dryland Management – a commentary. Silva Fennica vol. 51 no. 1B article id 6985. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.6985
article id 547, category Commentary
Introduction. Disturbance dynamics in boreal forests: defining the ecological basis of restoration and management of biodiversity. Silva Fennica vol. 36 no. 1 article id 547. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.547
Category: Research article
article id 7723, category Research article
Recovery of boreal forest soil and tree stand characteristics a century after intensive slash-and-burn cultivation. Silva Fennica vol. 51 no. 5 article id 7723. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.7723
Highlights: Soil organic matter stocks have still not fully recovered after a century of stand succession and passive recovery after slash-and-burn period; Historical slash-and-burn stands feature higher live birch and standing dead wood volume than controls; If passive rewildening is used, Fennoscandian boreal forests need more than a century to regain naturalness.
Passive rewildening of forest ecosystems is commonly used for rehabilitating degraded habitats closer to their natural origin in addition to costly active restoration measures. However, it is not clear if passive processes are effective and how long the recovery of main ecosystem properties takes. We investigate the recovery of forest soil and tree stand characteristics a century after cessation of slash-and-burn cultivation, a major historical intensive disturbance regime that was applied widely in boreal zone of Finland until late 1800s. We systematically sampled soil and tree stand parameters within former slash-and-burn and nearby control areas. Humus layer thickness and soil organic matter (SOM) stocks were still lower in the historical slash-and-burn than in control areas. Slash-and-burn areas also had a larger volume of live birch trees and a higher standing dead wood volume than control areas. Accordingly, organic matter (humus layer thickness and SOM stocks) correlated negatively with birch standing live tree volume. Combined OM stock in humus and uppermost 10 cm mineral soil layer was positively correlated with lying dead wood volume. Overall, we observed clear recovery of several natural properties but we also found that a century after cessation of frequent anthropogenic burnings, clear legacies of disturbance in the above- and below-ground parts of boreal ecosystem were evident. Our results indicate that if only passive rewildening is applied as a restoration measure, the full recovery of boreal forest is slow and the effects of historical land-use may persist for over hundred years in soil and tree properties.
article id 1718, category Research article
Variability and patterns in forest soil and vegetation characteristics after prescribed burning in clear-cuts and restoration burnings. Silva Fennica vol. 51 no. 1 article id 1718. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.1718
Highlights: Soil parameter variability is similar across sites of different disturbance type; Variability of understory vegetation biomass and cover is higher and more different between sites than soil variability; Sites studied here reflect well the assumed disturbance-type gradient based on PCA; Sampling six forest sites per treatment should provide good statistical power to capture the differences in soil organic matter stocks.
Forest ecological restoration by burning is widely applied to promote natural, early-successional sites and increase landscape biodiversity. Burning is also used as a forest management practice to facilitate forest regeneration after clearcutting. Besides the desired goals, restoration burnings also affect soil biogeochemistry, particularly soil organic matter (SOM) and related soil carbon stocks but the long-term effects are poorly understood. However, in order to study these effects, a reliable estimate of spatial variability is first needed for effective sampling. Here we investigate spatial variability of SOM and vegetation features 13 years after burnings and in combination with variable harvest levels. We sampled four experimental sites representing distinct management and restoration treatments with an undisturbed control. While variability of vegetation cover and biomass was generally higher in disturbed sites, soil parameter variability was not different between the four sites. The joint ecological patterns of soil and vegetation parameters across the whole sample continuum support well the prior assumptions on the characteristic disturbance conditions within each of the study sites. We designed and employed statistical simulations as a means to plan prospective sampling. Sampling six forest sites for each treatment type with 30 independent soil cores per site would provide enough statistical power to adequately capture the impacts of burning on SOM based on the data we obtained here and statistical simulations. In conclusion, we argue that an informed design-based approach to documenting the ecosystem effects of forest burnings is worth applying both through obtaining new data and meta-analysing the existing.
article id 1462, category Research article
The effects of drainage and restoration of pine mires on habitat structure, vegetation and ants. Silva Fennica vol. 50 no. 2 article id 1462. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.1462
Highlights: Mire drainage shifted floristic composition and ant assemblages towards forest communities; Raising the water-table level by ditch filling and the thinning of trees affected mire communities positively already 1–3 years after the start of restoration; The extent of tree cover, the coverage of Sphagnum mosses and the water-table level were major determinants of ant assemblage structure.
Habitat loss and degradation are the main threats to biodiversity worldwide. For example, nearly 80% of peatlands in southern Finland have been drained. There is thus a need to safeguard the remaining pristine mires and to restore degraded ones. Ants play a pivotal role in many ecosystems and like many keystone plant species, shape ecosystem conditions for other biota. The effects of mire restoration and subsequent vegetation succession on ants, however, are poorly understood. We inventoried tree stands, vegetation, water-table level, and ants (with pitfall traps) in nine mires in southern Finland to explore differences in habitats, vegetation and ant assemblages among pristine, drained (30–40 years ago) and recently restored (1–3 years ago) pine mires. We expected that restoring the water-table level by ditch filling and reconstructing sparse tree stands by cuttings will recover mire vegetation and ants. We found predictable responses in habitat structure, floristic composition and ant assemblage structure both to drainage and restoration. However, for mire-specialist ants the results were variable and longer-term monitoring is needed to confirm the success of restoration since these social insects establish perennial colonies with long colony cycles. We conclude that restoring the water-table level and tree stand structure seem to recover the characteristic vegetation and ant assemblages in the short term. This recovery was likely enhanced because drained mires still had both acrotelm and catotelm, and connectedness was still reasonable for mire organisms to recolonize the restored mires either from local refugia or from populations of nearby mires.
article id 980, category Research article
Created substrates do not fully mimic natural substrates in restoration: the occurrence of polypores on spruce logs. Silva Fennica vol. 48 no. 1 article id 980. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.980
Highlights: Polypore communities were more homogeneous among created than among natural logs; The old-growth forest indicator Phellinus ferrugineofuscus occurred frequently on natural logs, but occupied only a few created logs; Results show that created logs do not fully mimic natural logs.
Many protected areas have been under intensive forest management prior to protection and thus lack natural ecosystem structures and dynamics. Dead wood is a key structure in forests harboring hundreds of threatened species. We investigated the ecological success of dead wood creation as a boreal forest restoration measure. We analysed whether the polypore communities of chain-saw felled and girdled (subsequently fallen) Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) logs differ from naturally formed spruce logs of similar decay stage and size. The study was conducted in Leivonmäki National Park in central Finland 8 years after the restoration measures. The average number of polypore species was highest on the chain-saw felled logs and most of the common polypore species were most frequent on this substrate. However, among the natural logs, number of species increased more steeply with increasing number of logs, suggesting greater variation in community composition on this substrate. The old-growth forest indicator Phellinus ferrugineofuscus occurred frequently on natural logs, occupied a few girdled logs but was absent from chain-saw felled logs. Our results show that from the polypore perspective created logs do not fully mimic natural logs, suggesting that creating substrates for species may pose a challenge for restoration.
article id 90, category Research article
Protecting forest areas for biodiversity in Sweden 1991–2010: the policy implementation process and outcomes on the ground. Silva Fennica vol. 45 no. 5 article id 90. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.90
Swedish forest and environmental policies imply that forests should be managed so that all naturally occurring species are maintained in viable populations. This requires maintenance of functional networks of representative natural forest and cultural woodland habitats. We first review the policy implementation process regarding protected areas in Sweden 1991–2010, how ecological knowledge was used to formulate interim short-term and strategic long-term biodiversity conservation goals, and the development of a hierarchical spatial planning approach. Second, we present data about the amount of formally protected and voluntarily set aside forest stands, and evaluate how much remains in terms of additional forest protection, conservation management and habitat restoration to achieve forest and environmental policy objectives in the long-term. Third, a case study in central Sweden was made to estimate the functionality of old Scots pine, Norway spruce and deciduous forest habitats, as well as cultural woodland, in different forest regions. Finally, we assess operational biodiversity conservation planning processes. We conclude that Swedish policy pronouncements capture the contemporary knowledge about biodiversity and conservation planning well. However, the existing area of protected and set-aside forests is presently too small and with too poor connectivity. To bridge this gap, spatial planning, management and restoration of habitat, as well as collaboration among forest and conservation planners need to be improved.
article id 88, category Research article
Tree regeneration in artificial canopy gaps established for restoring natural structural variability in a Scots pine stand. Silva Fennica vol. 45 no. 5 article id 88. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.88
In Finland and elsewhere in Europe, many protected forest areas include also stands that were previously managed and that lack several naturally occurring stand characteristics. In these areas, ecosystem restoration can be used to facilitate and accelerate the formation of structural and habitat features resembling those of natural forests. For example, by creating small gaps it could be possible to diversify forest structure and tree species composition and to produce dead wood while still maintaining mostly continous canopy coverage. We examined experimentally the effects of artificial gap formation on post-disturbance tree regeneration in the gaps in a young protected, but formerly commercially managed pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) dominated forest. In the experimental sites, gap size and the portion of girdled trees out of all treated trees (girdled and felled trees combined) in the gaps varied. Natural and artificial (direct seeding of silver birch Betula pendula Roth) tree regeneration and development was monitored both on disturbed (scarified soil patches) and undisturbed forest floor during three growing seasons. Results show that gaps can be valuable in diversifying stand structure but to be successful and rapid, tree regeneration needs disturbed forest floor. Pine regenerated numerously, but birch had clearly lower regeneration, especially on small-sized gaps. In conclusion, increasing tree diversity in young pine-dominated forests seems to be difficult when only small artificial gaps are used. But even small gaps can be used to create and maintain diverse cohort structure of the dominant species and thus they can contribute to restoration goals.
article id 254, category Research article
Risk of bark beetle (Coleoptera, Scolytidae) damage in a spruce forest restoration area in central Finland. Silva Fennica vol. 42 no. 2 article id 254. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.254
A beetle inventory using window traps was performed to examine the effect of forest restoration by artificial addition of dead wood on the abundance of beetles and to evaluate the risk of bark beetle damage in a forest restoration area. The number of beetle families was slightly increased, but no consistent differences were found in the abundance of families containing saproxylic Coleoptera between the restoration and control plots. The abundance and species number of bark beetles and longhorn beetles were significantly higher on the restoration plots. Ips typographus and Pityogenes chalcographus increased only slightly in abundance. In the regression models produced, the abundance of bark beetles was best explained by the volume of recently dead wood. However, the bark beetle species whose abundance increased most were secondary and the material also suggests an increase in the abundance of bark beetles’ natural enemies. The risk of bark beetle damage in the area is thus considered insignificant.
article id 377, category Research article
Structure of old Pinus sylvestris dominated forest stands along a geographic and human impact gradient in mid-boreal Fennoscandia. Silva Fennica vol. 39 no. 3 article id 377. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.377
Stand structural characteristics were examined in old Pinus sylvestris dominated sites in three regions along a broad geographic and human impact gradient in mid-boreal Fennoscandia. The study regions were: 1) Häme in south-western Finland, with a long history of forest utilization, 2) Kuhmo in north-eastern Finland, with a more recent history of intensive forest utilization, and 3) Vienansalo in Russian Karelia, still characterized by a large near-natural forest landscape. Within each region the sampled sites were divided into three human impact classes: 1) near-natural stands, 2) stands selectively logged in the past, and 3) managed stands treated with thinnings. The near-natural and selectively logged stands in Häme and Kuhmo had a significantly higher Picea proportion compared to stands in Vienansalo. In comparison, the proportions of deciduous tree volumes were higher in near-natural stands in Vienansalo compared to near-natural stands in Häme. The pooled tree diameter distributions, both in near-natural and selectively logged stands, were descending whereas managed stands had a bimodal diameter distribution. Structural diversity characteristics such as broken trunks were most common in near-natural stands and in stands selectively logged in the past. The results demonstrate the higher structural complexity of near-natural stands and stands selectively logged in the past compared to managed stands, and highlight that old near-natural stands and stands selectively logged in the past vary widely in their structures. This obviously reflects both their natural variability but also various combinations of pre-industrial land use and human impact on fire disturbance. These factors need to be acknowledged when using “natural” forest structures as a reference in developing strategies for forest management, restoration and nature conservation.
article id 560, category Research article
An approach to predicting the potential forest composition and disturbance regime for a highly modified landscape: a pilot study of Strathdon in the Scottish Highlands. Silva Fennica vol. 36 no. 1 article id 560. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.560
The existing native forests of Scotland are fragmented and highly modified and none are ‘natural’. There is considerable interest in expanding the area of this oceanic boreal forest and restoring forest habitat networks to benefit biodiversity. However, unlike regions with substantial remaining natural forest, it is difficult to provide reference values for forest composition and structure using methods related to historical variability. An alternative approach is to combine models that predict woodland type from knowledge of site conditions, and disturbance regime from knowledge of the disturbance agents (particularly abiotic agents). The applicability of this approach was examined as part of a public participatory planning exercise in a highly managed landscape in Eastern Scotland. Models of site suitability (Ecological Site Classification) and wind disturbance (ForestGALES) were combined to determine potential woodland composition and structure, and derive options for native woodland expansion. The land use of the upper Strathdon catchment is currently dominated by agriculture and planted forests of non-native species, and only small fragments of semi-natural woodland remain (< 0.5% of the land area). Model results indicated that a very substantial proportion of the land area could support woodland (> 90%) but of a restricted range of native woodland types, with Scots pine communities predominant. Structural types likely to be present included wind-induced krummholz (treeline) forest, forest with frequent stand replacement by wind, and also a large area where gap phase (or some other disturbance) would predominate. The merits of the approach are discussed, together with the difficulties of validation, and the implications for the management of existing forests.
Category: Review article
article id 1673, category Review article
Rehabilitation of degraded dryland ecosystems – review. Silva Fennica vol. 51 no. 1B article id 1673. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.1673
Highlights: The prospect of restoring degraded drylands is technically promising; The forest landscape restoration concept can be used as the overarching rehabilitation framework; Development of process-based models that forecast rehabilitation outcomes is needed; Rehabilitation methodologies developed for moist areas are not necessarily suitable for drylands; More data is needed on cost-benefit analysis of rehabilitation interventions.
Land degradation is widespread and a serious threat affecting the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people worldwide of which one sixth or 250 million people reside in drylands. Globally, it is estimated that 10–20% of drylands are already degraded and about 12 million ha are degraded each year. Driven by unsustainable land use practices, adverse climatic conditions and population increase, land degradation has led to decline in provision of ecosystem services, food insecurity, social and political instability and reduction in the ecosystem’s resilience to natural climate variability. Several global initiatives have been launched to combat land degradation, including rehabilitation of degraded drylands. This review aimed at collating the current state-of-knowledge about rehabilitation of degraded drylands. It was found that the prospect of restoring degraded drylands is technically promising using a suite of passive (e.g. area exclosure, assisted natural regeneration, rotational grazing) and active (e.g. mixed-species planting, framework species, maximum diversity, and use of nurse tree) rehabilitation measures. Advances in soil reclamation using biological, chemical and physical measures have been made. Despite technical advances, the scale of rehabilitation intervention is small and lacks holistic approach. Development of process-based models that forecast outcomes of the various rehabilitation activities will be useful tools for researchers and practitioners. The concept of forest landscape restoration approach, which operates at landscape-level, could also be adopted as the overarching framework for rehabilitation of degraded dryland ecosystems. The review identified a data gap in cost-benefit analysis of rehabilitation interventions. However, the cost of rehabilitation and sustainable management of drylands is opined to be lower than the losses that accrue from inaction, depending on the degree of degradation. Thus, local communities’ participation, incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge, clear division of tasks and benefits, strengthening local institutions are crucial not only for cost-sharing, but also for the long-term success of rehabilitation activities.
article id 74, category Review article
The restorative imperative: challenges, objectives and approaches to restoring naturalness in forests. Silva Fennica vol. 45 no. 5 article id 74. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.74
Many of the world’s forests are not primeval; forest restoration aims to reverse alterations caused by human use. Forest restoration (including reforestation and forest rehabilitation) is widely researched and practiced around the globe. A review of recent literature reveals some common themes concerning forest restoration motivations and methods. In some parts of the world, forest restoration aims mainly to re-establish trees required for timber or fuelwood; such work emphasizes the propagation, establishment and growth of trees, and equates with the traditional discipline of silviculture. Elsewhere, a recent focus on biocentric values adopts the goal of supporting full complements of indigenous trees and other species. Such ecosystem-based restoration approaches consider natural templates and a wide array of attributes and processes, but there remains an emphasis on trees and plant species composition. Efforts to restore natural processes such as nutrient cycling, succession, and natural disturbances seem limited, except for the use of fire, which has seen widespread adoption in some regions. The inherent challenges in restoring “naturalness” include high temporal and spatial heterogeneity in forest conditions and natural disturbances, the long history of human influence on forests in many regions of the world, and uncertainty about future climate and disturbance regimes. Although fixed templates may be inappropriate, we still have a reasonably clear idea of the incremental steps required to make forests more natural. Because most locations can support many alternative configurations of natural vegetation, the restoration of forest naturalness necessarily involves the setting of priorities and strategic directions in the context of human values and objectives, as informed by our best understanding of ecosystem structure and function now and in the future.