In the presented research, we studied the forest edge structure of urban and peri-urban forests on the outskirts of Ljubljana (Slovenia) consisting of a number of patches covering the collective surface of 1884 ha. They differ from each other according to the degree of fragmentation and by the share of the interior forest area. On the basis of LiDAR data, we conducted an analysis of the edges of the persistent forest patches and estimated them with regard to the land use they bordered on. The horizontal estimation of forest edges and the changes of forest edges, in the last decades, were estimated using digital orthophoto images of cyclic aerial surveys of Slovenia, from 1975 to 2018. The data, provided by LiDAR, were used to obtain an accurate estimate of forest edges and the metrics of their vertical canopy structure. On the basis of the canopy height model (CHM), we determined the height classes, the heights of the tallest trees, and indices of canopy height diversity (CHD) as variables subjected to a k
-means cluster analysis. To determine the forest edge and trees stability, their heights and diameters at breast height (DBH) were measured and their canopy length and h/d
(height/diameter) dimension ratios were estimated. In the study area of the Golovec forest patch, more than half of the forest edge segments (56%) border on residential buildings. After the construction of buildings, 54% of the newly formed forest edges developed a high and steep structure. Unfavorable h/d
dimension ratio was estimated for 16% of trees, more among the coniferous than among the deciduous trees. Similar characteristics of newly formed forest edges bordering on built-up areas were determined in other sub-urban forest patches, despite the smaller share of such forest edges (19% and 10%, respectively). Tools and methods presented in the research enable the implementation of concrete silvicultural practices in a realistic time period and extend to ensure that adequate forestry measures are taken to minimize possible disturbances.
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