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Forests 2017, 8(1), 12; doi:10.3390/f8010012

Clearcutting and Site Preparation, but Not Planting, Promoted Early Tree Regeneration in Boreal Alaska

1
School of Natural Resources and Extension, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
2
Natural Science, Landmark College, Putney, VT 05346, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Brian J. Palik and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 11 November 2016 / Revised: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 December 2016 / Published: 25 December 2016
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Abstract

The stand initiation stage decisively influences future forest structure and composition, particularly in the boreal forest which is a stand replacement disturbance driven system. In boreal Alaska, the conventional forest management paradigm has focused on the production of large-dimension timber, particularly white spruce (Picea glauca). However, energy generation and heating from wood is increasing, and is likely to significantly expand total forest harvest, further shifting management focus to fuelwood production. We evaluated the effects of forest harvest management practices on post-harvest regeneration by examining whether harvest type, site preparation method, and reforestation technique resulted in differences in forest regeneration in terms of species presence, dominance, basal area, and total stem biomass using a stochastic gradient boosting (TreeNet algorithm). We recorded diameter at breast height and height of white spruce, birch (Betula neoalaskana), and aspen (Populus tremuloides) in 726 plots from 30 harvest units, distributed across the various harvest and treatment types, harvest years, harvest sizes, and geographical locations. Our results indicate that management practices suitable/acceptable for woody biomass production differ from the more traditional dimensional timber production from white spruce-focused management. Artificial reforestation does not differ from natural regeneration in obtaining more stems or producing greater biomass. Clearcutting and site preparation increased tree regeneration, basal area, and woody biomass when compared to a partial harvest with no site preparation. Planting of white spruce in the Alaskan boreal forest may only be necessary in some specific circumstances, such as years with no/low white spruce seed crop, or in landscapes depleted of seed trees. View Full-Text
Keywords: low-input management; post-harvest regeneration; clearcutting; site preparation; TreeNet (stochastic gradient boosting) low-input management; post-harvest regeneration; clearcutting; site preparation; TreeNet (stochastic gradient boosting)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Morimoto, M.; Juday, G.; Young, B. Clearcutting and Site Preparation, but Not Planting, Promoted Early Tree Regeneration in Boreal Alaska. Forests 2017, 8, 12.

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