Management in relation to disturbance in the boreal forest

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Niemelä, J. 1999. Management in relation to disturbance in the boreal forest. Forest Ecology and Management 115: 127-134.

Title: Management in relation to disturbance in the boreal forest
Author: Niemelä, J.
Publisher: Elsevier Science B.V.
Date: 1999
Language: en
Number of pages: 140844 bytes
ISSN: 0378-1127
Abstract: Disturbances and the consequent habitat heterogeneity are natural features of the boreal forest. Natural disturbances occurring at the level of populations, communities and ecosystems (meters to kilometers and years to hundreds of years), that is, at the `meso-scale' may provide useful guidelines for forest management. This approach is based on the assumption that species are adapted to the disturbance regime of the forest-type that they occupy. However, natural disturbance and human-caused disturbance, such as clear-cutting, may differ substantially in their ecological effects. Potential differences occur on several scales. On the stand scale, removal or destruction of important habitat structures, such as coarse woody debris, during traditional clear-cutting may affect species. On the landscape scale, fragmentation may cause local extinctions and hamper the recolonization of maturing sites by old-growth specialists. The effect of these differences on boreal biota needs to be assessed. On the stand scale, the degree of recovery (resilience) of populations and communities after human-caused disturbance versus natural disturbance, that is, the succession process, could be a useful criterion when developing new forestry methods. On the landscape scale, it is important to maintain enough patches of suitable habitat for the old-growth species in order to prevent local extinctions and to promote recolonizations. Natural landscapes could be used as a reference here. In conclusion, although possibilities of matching forestry with maintenance of taiga biota through development of harvesting methods that mimic natural disturbance seem reasonably good, there is an urgent need to establish criteria for the assessment of the success or failure of such methods. The resilience of forest ecosystems as re¯ected in population changes of surrogate taxa after disturbance could be used to guide management.
Subject: Boreal forest

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