Current issue: 54(2)
Within the European Community snow damage affects an estimated 4 million m3 of timber every year, causing significant economic losses to forest owners. In Northern Europe, for example, the occurrence of snow damage has increased over the last few decades mainly due to the increase in total growing stock. The most common form of damage is stem breakage, but trees can also be bent or uprooted. Trees suffering snow damage are also more prone to consequential damage through insect or fungal attacks.
Snow accumulation on trees is strongly dependent upon weather and climatological conditions. Temperature influences the moisture content of snow and therefore the degree to which it can accumulate on branches. Wind can cause snow to be shed, but can also lead to large accumulations of wet snow, rime or freezing rain. Wet snow is most likely in late autumn or early spring. Geographic location and topography influence the occurrence of damaging forms of snow, and coastal locations and moderate to high elevations experience large accumulations. Slope plays a less important role and the evidence on the role of aspect is contradictory. The occurrence of damaging events can vary from every winter to once every 10 years or so depending upon regional climatology. In the future, assuming global warming in northern latitudes, the risk of snow damage could increase, because the relative occurrence of snowfall near temperatures of zero could increase.
The severity of snow damage is related to tree characteristics. Stem taper and crown characteristics are the most important factors controlling the stability of trees. Slightly tapering stems, asymmetric crowns, and rigid horizontal branching are all associated with high risk. However, the evidence on species differences is less clear due to the interaction with location. Management of forests can alter risk through choice of regeneration, tending, thinning and rotation. However, quantification and comparison of the absolute effect of these measures is not yet possible. An integrated risk model is required to allow the various locational and silvicultural factors to be assessed. Plans are presented to construct such a model, and gaps in knowledge are highlighted.
Model-based information systems have proved valuable planning tools for analysing the production possibilities of forests as well as for understanding forest resources dynamics, stand management practices and forest economics. Computerized forest models implemented in the users’ information systems facilitate the transfer and application of research results in practical forestry.
Conclusions and visions concerning modelling are drawn from experiences in developing the MELA system and its application in solving timber production problems on both the national and forest holding level in Finland. The precondition for predicting forest resource dynamics and for planning the utilization of forests is to accept conditions, uncertainties and a restricted period of time.
The interactive process of forest resource, growth and drain monitoring, and forest management planning supported by forest research and modelling, are the means to enable an operational information base for a dynamic regulation and adaptation strategy for forest resource management under changing conditions and uncertainty.
The PDF includes an abstract in Finnish.
A nonlinear programming algorithm was combined with two individual-tree growth simulators consisting of distance-independent diameter and height growth models and mortality models. Management questions that can be addressed by the optimization model include the timing, intensity and type of thinning, rotation age, and initial density. The results were calculated for Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) stands on Oxalis-Myrtillus site in Southern Finland, where the stand density after clearing of a seedling stand is about 2,000 trees/ha.
The optimum thinning programs were characterized by late first thinnings (at dominant height of 15–17 m) and relatively high growing stock levels. It was optimal to thin from above, unless mean annual increment was maximized instead of an economic objective. In most cases, the optimum number of thinnings was two or three. Compared to a no-thinning alternative, thinnings increased revenues by 15 –45% depending on the objective of stand management. Optimum rotation was strongly dependent on the interest rate.
Hooke and Jeeves’ direct search method was used for determining optimum solutions. The performance of the optimization algorithm was examined in terms of the number of functional evaluations and the equivalence of the objective function values of repeated optimizations.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.