Forest management alters forest site; however, information is still limited about how different silvicultural treatments modify abiotic conditions. We compared the effects of four treatments from three different forestry systems on forest microclimate, litter, and soil conditions. The clear-cutting, retention tree group, preparation cutting, and gap-cutting treatments were experimentally established in a European oak-dominated forest, following a complete block design with six replicates. In this study, we show the results of the quantitative analyses of 21 variables, one year after the interventions. Strong treatment effects were observed for the microclimate and litter variables, whereas the soil characteristics remained similar. The increase in light was the highest in the clear-cuts with intermediate effects in the gap-cuts. The means and variances of the air and soil temperature as well as the vapor pressure deficit were the highest for the clear-cutting treatment. An increase in soil moisture, litter pH, and litter moisture was significant in the gap-cuts and, to a smaller extent, in the clear-cuts. The soil pH increased in the retention tree groups. Microclimatic differences between the treatments were the largest during the summer, which demonstrates the buffering effect of the canopy. Our study confirms that less intensive and more spatially heterogeneous silvicultural treatments (e.g., gap-cutting) preserve a stable below-canopy microclimate more effectively. These results can support and might be useful for both forest management and conservation planning.
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