Browsing by Subject "Forest dynamics"

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  • Kuuluvainen, Timo; Aakala, Tuomas; Várkonyi, Gergely (Springer Singapore, 2017)
    Abstract Background After their death, Scots pine trees can remain standing for decades and sometimes up to 200 years, forming long-lasting and ecologically important structures in boreal forest landscapes. Standing dead pines decay very slowly and with time develop into ‘kelo’ trees, which are characterized by hard wood with silvery-colored appearance. These kelo trees represent an ecologically important, long lasting and visually striking element of the structure of natural pine-dominated forests in boreal Fennoscandia that is nowadays virtually absent from managed forest landscapes. Methods We examined and mapped the amount, structural features, site characteristics and spatial distribution of dead standing pine trees over a ten hectare area in an unmanaged boreal forest landscape in the Kalevala National Park in Russian Viena Karelia. Results The mean basal area of dead standing pine trees in the forested part of the landscape was 1.7 m2∙ha−1 and the estimated volume 12.7 m3∙ha−1. From the total number of standing dead pine trees 65% were kelo trees, with a basal area of 1.1 m2∙ha−1 and volume of 8.0 m3∙ha−1, the remainder consisting of standing dead pines along the continuum between a recently dead tree and a kelo tree. Overall, standing dead pines were distributed throughout the study area, but there was a tendency towards spatial clustering up to <100 m distances. Standing dead pines were most commonly situated on flat ground or in the mid slope in the local topography. In addition, standing dead pines contributed to substrate diversity also by commonly having charred wood and broken tops. Based on the presence of dead pine snags in different stage of transition from a recently dead pine to a kelo with silvery surface, it seems evident that the process of kelo recruitment was continuously in action in the studied landscape. Conclusions Kelo trees are an omnipresent feature in natural pine-dominated forest landscapes with important contribution to forest structural and substrate diversity. Because of their longevity and extremely slow turnover dynamics and importance for biodiversity, protection of vulnerable kelo tree populations, and ensuring their continuous recruitment, should be of high priority in forest restoration and sustainable management.
  • Kuuluvainen, Timo; Lindberg, Henrik; Vanha-Majamaa, Ilkka; Keto-Tokoi, Petri; Punttila, Pekka (2019)
    In managed forests, leaving retention trees during final harvesting has globally become a common approach to reconciling the often conflicting goals of timber production and safeguarding biodiversity and delivery of several ecosystem services. In Finland, the dominant certification scheme requires leaving low levels of retention that can benefit some specific species. However, species responses are dependent on the level of retention and the current low amounts of retention clearly do not provide the habitat quality and continuity needed for declining and red-listed forest species which are dependent on old living trees and coarse woody debris. Several factors contribute to this situation. First, the ecological benefits of the current low retention levels are further diminished by monotonous standwise use of retention, resulting in low variability of retention habitat at the landscape scale. Second, the prevailing timber-oriented management thinking may regard retention trees as an external cost to be minimized, rather than as part of an integrated approach to managing the ecosystem for specific goals. Third, the main obstacles of development may still be institutional and policy-related. The development of retention practices in Finland indicates that the aim has not been to use ecological understanding to attain specific ecological sustainability goals, but rather to define the lowest level of retention that still allows access to the market. We conclude that prevailing retention practices in Finland currently lack ecological credibility in safeguarding biodiversity and they should urgently be developed based on current scientific knowledge to meet ecological sustainability goals.
  • Kuuluvainen, Timo; Lindberg, Henrik; Vanha-Majamaa, Ilkka; Keto-Tokoi, Petri; Punttila, Pekka (Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2019)
    Abstract In managed forests, leaving retention trees during final harvesting has globally become a common approach to reconciling the often conflicting goals of timber production and safeguarding biodiversity and delivery of several ecosystem services. In Finland, the dominant certification scheme requires leaving low levels of retention that can benefit some specific species. However, species responses are dependent on the level of retention and the current low amounts of retention clearly do not provide the habitat quality and continuity needed for declining and red-listed forest species which are dependent on old living trees and coarse woody debris. Several factors contribute to this situation. First, the ecological benefits of the current low retention levels are further diminished by monotonous standwise use of retention, resulting in low variability of retention habitat at the landscape scale. Second, the prevailing timber-oriented management thinking may regard retention trees as an external cost to be minimized, rather than as part of an integrated approach to managing the ecosystem for specific goals. Third, the main obstacles of development may still be institutional and policy-related. The development of retention practices in Finland indicates that the aim has not been to use ecological understanding to attain specific ecological sustainability goals, but rather to define the lowest level of retention that still allows access to the market. We conclude that prevailing retention practices in Finland currently lack ecological credibility in safeguarding biodiversity and they should urgently be developed based on current scientific knowledge to meet ecological sustainability goals.
  • Berglund, Hakan; Kuuluvainen, Timo (2021)
    The natural range of variation of ecosystems provides reference conditions for sustainable management and biodiversity conservation. We review how the understanding of natural reference conditions of boreal forests in northern Europe has changed from earlier perceptions of even-aged dynamics driven by stand-replacing disturbances towards current understanding highlighting the role of non-stand-replacing disturbances and the resultant complex forest dynamics and structures. We show how earlier views and conceptual models of forest disturbance dynamics, including the influential ASIO model, provide estimates of reference conditions that are outside the natural range of variation. Based on a research synthesis, we present a revised forest reference model incorporating the observed complexity of ecosystem dynamics and the prevalence of old forests. Finally, we outline a management model and demonstrate its use in forest ecosystem management and show how regional conservation area needs can be estimated. We conclude that attaining favourable conservation status in northern Europe's boreal forests requires increasing emphasis on ecosystem management and conservation for old forest characteristics.
  • Kulha, Niko; Pasanen, Leena; Holmström, Lasse; Grandpre, Louis de; Gauthier, Sylvie; Kuuluvainen, Timo; Aakala, Tuomas (2020)
    Context: Changes in the structure of boreal old-growth forests are typically studied at a specific spatial scale. Consequently, little is known about forest development across different spatial scales. Objectives: We investigated how and at what spatial scales forest structure changed over several decades in three 4 km² boreal old-growth forests landscapes in northeastern Finland and two in Quebec, Canada. Methods: We used canopy cover values visually interpreted to 0.1-ha grid cells from aerial photographs taken at three time points between the years 1959 and 2011, and error distributions quantified for the interpretation. We identified the spatial scales at which canopy cover changed between the time points, and examined the credibility of changes at these scales using the error distributions in Bayesian inference. Results: Canopy cover changed at three to four spatial scales, the number of scales depending on the studied landscape and time interval. At large scales (15.4–321.7 ha), canopy cover increased in Finland during all time intervals. In Quebec, the direction of the large-scale change varied between the studied time intervals, owing to the occurrence of an insect outbreak and a consequent recovery. However, parts of these landscapes also showed canopy cover increase. Superimposed on the large-scale developments, canopy cover changed variably at smaller scales (1.3–2.8-ha and 0.1-ha). Conclusions: Our findings support the idea that the structure of boreal old-growth forests changes at discernible spatial scales. Instead of being driven by gap dynamics, the old-growth forests in the studied regions are currently reacting to large-scale drivers by an increase in canopy cover.
  • Kuuluvainen, Timo; Gauthier, Sylvie (2018)
    The circumboreal forest encompasses diverse landscape structures, dynamics and forest age distributions determined by their physical setting, and historical and current disturbance regimes. However, due to intensifying forest utilisation, and in certain areas due to increasing natural disturbances, boreal forest age-class structures have changed rapidly, so that the proportion of old forest has substantially declined, while that of young post-harvest and post-natural-disturbance forest proportions have increased. In the future, with a warming climate in certain boreal regions, this trend may further be enhanced due to an increase in natural disturbances and large-scale use of forest biomass to replace fossil-based fuels and products. The major drivers of change of forest age class distributions and structures include the use of clearcut short-rotation harvesting, more frequent and severe natural disturbances due to climate warming in certain regions. The decline in old forest area, and increase in managed young forest lacking natural post-disturbance structural legacies, represent a major transformation in the ecological conditions of the boreal forest beyond historical limits of variability. This may introduce a threat to biodiversity, ecosystem resilience and long-term adaptive capacity of the forest ecosystem. To safeguard boreal forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and to maintain the multiple services provided to societies by this forest biome, it is pivotal to maintain an adequate share and the ecological qualities of young post-disturbance stages, along with mature forest stages with old-growth characteristics. This requires management for natural post-disturbance legacy structures, and innovative use of diverse uneven-aged and continuous cover management approaches to maintain critical late-successional forest structures in landscapes.
  • Kuuluvainen, Timo; Gauthier, Sylvie (Springer Singapore, 2018)
    Abstract The circumboreal forest encompasses diverse landscape structures, dynamics and forest age distributions determined by their physical setting, and historical and current disturbance regimes. However, due to intensifying forest utilisation, and in certain areas due to increasing natural disturbances, boreal forest age-class structures have changed rapidly, so that the proportion of old forest has substantially declined, while that of young post-harvest and post-natural-disturbance forest proportions have increased. In the future, with a warming climate in certain boreal regions, this trend may further be enhanced due to an increase in natural disturbances and large-scale use of forest biomass to replace fossil-based fuels and products. The major drivers of change of forest age class distributions and structures include the use of clearcut short-rotation harvesting, more frequent and severe natural disturbances due to climate warming in certain regions. The decline in old forest area, and increase in managed young forest lacking natural post-disturbance structural legacies, represent a major transformation in the ecological conditions of the boreal forest beyond historical limits of variability. This may introduce a threat to biodiversity, ecosystem resilience and long-term adaptive capacity of the forest ecosystem. To safeguard boreal forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and to maintain the multiple services provided to societies by this forest biome, it is pivotal to maintain an adequate share and the ecological qualities of young post-disturbance stages, along with mature forest stages with old-growth characteristics. This requires management for natural post-disturbance legacy structures, and innovative use of diverse uneven-aged and continuous cover management approaches to maintain critical late-successional forest structures in landscapes.