Windthrow can interfere significantly with ecosystem management practices. In some cases, their goal could still be reached but this may prove more complex in other cases, like the partial cutting of old-growth stands. In situations where windthrow is common without any human intervention, the use of partial cutting to maintain some stand structures may lead to a feedback loop leading to additional windthrow. Background and Objectives:
Forest ecosystem management using natural disturbances as a template has become the management paradigm in many regions. Most of the time, the focus is on fire regime and effects. However, windthrow can be common in some places or can interfere with practices implemented in an ecosystem management strategy. This paper looks at interactions between ecosystem management and windthrow. Materials and Methods:
The paper builds on three case studies looking at various elements that could be part of ecosystem management strategies. The first one looks at the impact of green tree retention, while the second one looks at the impact of reducing the size and dispersing clearcuts, and the last one examines the impact of a range of cutting practices in irregular old-growth stands. Results:
Green tree retention leads to increased windthrow, especially when applied within mature even-aged stands. Reducing the size of clearcuts and dispersing them over the landscape also involves substantial windthrow along edges. Partial cutting in old-growth stands can lead to relatively high mortality, but part of it is not necessarily related to wind since it occurs as standing dead trees. Differences in the amount of damage with tree size and species have been found and could be used to reduce wind damage. Conclusions:
Approaches to minimize wind damage in ecosystem management can be designed using existing knowledge. However, using windthrow as a template to design management strategies would prove more complex.
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