Forests2015, 6(8), 2678-2702; doi:10.3390/f6082678 (registering DOI) - published 31 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study examines tree and stand response to a gradient of commercial thinning intensities and nitrogen fertilization (200 kg N ha−1) in nine jack pine (Pinus banksiana) stands of Eastern Canada over a period of 14 years. Thinning intensity ranged from 0% basal area removal in control plots to 64% in thinned plots. Tree diameter increment, absolute and relative volume increment and mean volume increased with thinning intensity and were higher in fertilized plots. Individual tree response depended on tree diameter, with smallest trees exhibiting highest relative volume increment to thinning intensity. Stand basal area increment was positively associated to initial stand basal area and negatively to stand age. In thinned and fertilized plots, stand volume increment was higher and natural mortality lower than in fertilized only and unfertilized control plots over the 5–14 year period after thinning. However, the positive effect of fertilization on tree volume increment decreased with thinning intensity. Despite positive individual tree growth responses to thinning and fertilization, residual stand volume increment decreased with increased thinning intensity in both fertilized and unfertilized plots. While total cumulative stand volume (harvested + residual) also decreased with thinning intensity in unfertilized plots, comparable total volumes were observed in fertilized + thinned and unthinned control plots. Nitrogen fertilization in the years following commercial thinning enhanced the benefit of thinning on these relatively poor sites by increasing tree diameter growth, lowering mortality, and increasing total stand merchantable volume compared to unfertilized thinned stands.
Forests2015, 6(8), 2655-2677; doi:10.3390/f6082655 (registering DOI) - published 31 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Climate variability and change significantly affect smallholder farmers’ food security and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Tree planting is one of the measures promoted by development programs to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Tree planting is also believed to positively contribute to livelihoods. This paper examines factors influencing smallholders’ tree planting activities in four villages in the Ziro province, Southern Burkina Faso. Furthermore, it analyses the challenges encountered and willingness to continue tree planting under current tenure arrangements. The data was obtained through key informants, household interviews, focus group discussions, and field observations. Results indicate that the majority of farmers interviewed planted Mangifera indica (50%), Anacardium occidentale (32%) and Moringa oleifera (30%). In a number of trees planted, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Mangifera indica and Anacardium occidentale dominated. Tree planters were mainly farmers who held large and old farm areas, were literate and relatively wealthy, had favorable attitudes toward tree planting, and with considerable years of participation in a farmers’ group. The main reasons for planting trees included income generation from the sale of tree products, access to markets and local support for tree planting. Preference for agriculture, tenure insecurity and lack of sufficient land were the main reasons cited for not planting trees. Farm households that were relatively poor, had smaller workforces and smaller farm sizes were not willing to continue tree planting. To effectively engage farmers in tree planting and to make it more attractive, policies are needed that address tenure insecurity for migrants, enable better access to markets, and support fair pricing structures for wood and other tree resources.
Forests2015, 6(8), 2631-2654; doi:10.3390/f6082631 (registering DOI) - published 31 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Prediction of projected tree leaf area using allometric relationships with sapwood cross-sectional area is common in tree- and stand-level production studies. Measuring sapwood is difficult and often requires destructive sampling. This study tested multiple leaf area prediction models across seven diverse conifer species in the Sierra Nevada of California. The best-fit whole tree leaf area prediction model for overall simplicity, accuracy, and utility for all seven species was a nonlinear model with basal area as the primary covariate. A new non-destructive procedure was introduced to extend the branch summation approach to leaf area data collection on trees that cannot be destructively sampled. There were no significant differences between fixed effects assigned to sampling procedures, indicating that data from the tested sampling procedures can be combined for whole tree leaf area modeling purposes. These results indicate that, for the species sampled, accurate leaf area estimates can be obtained through partially-destructive sampling and using common forest inventory data.
Forests2015, 6(8), 2608-2630; doi:10.3390/f6082608 (registering DOI) - published 31 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Information on individual tree attributes is important for sustainable management of forest stands. Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) point clouds are an excellent source of information for predicting a range of forest stand attributes, with plot and single tree volume being among the most important. Two approaches exist for estimating volume: area-based approach (ABA) and individual tree detection (ITD). The ABA is now routinely applied in operational forestry applications, and results in generalized plot- or stand-level attribute predictions. Alternatively, ITD-based estimates provide detailed information for individual trees, but are typically biased due to challenges associated with individual tree detection. In this study, we applied an ABA to estimate tree counts and individual tree volumes by downscaling plot-level predictions of total volume derived using ALS data in a highly productive and complex coastal temperate forest environment in British Columbia, Canada, characterized by large volumes and multi-species and multi-age stand structures. To do so, a two-parameter Weibull probability density function (PDF) was used to describe the within-plot tree volume distribution. The ABA approach was then used to model the total plot volume and the two Weibull PDF parameters. Next, the parameters were used to calculate mean tree volume and derive the number of trees and the individual tree volume distribution. Tree count estimates were minimally biased with RMSE of 149 trees·ha−1 or 24.4%. The volume distributions showed good agreement with reference data (mean Reynold’s error index = 71.7). We conclude that the approach was suitable for enriching ABA-derived forest stand attributes in the majority of the studied forest stands; however the accuracy was lower in multi-layered stands that had a multimodal individual tree volume distribution.
Forests2015, 6(8), 2588-2607; doi:10.3390/f6082588 (registering DOI) - published 31 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The importance of N2-fixing arboreal cyanolichens to the nitrogen (N)-balance of sub-boreal interior hybrid spruce (Picea glauca × engelmannii) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) forests was examined at field sites in central BC, Canada. Host trees were accessed by a single-rope climbing technique and foliage as well as arboreal macrolichen functional groups were sampled by branch height in eight random sample trees from each of two high (High Cyano) and two low (Low Cyano) cyanolichen abundance sites for a total of 32 sample trees. Natural abundances of stable isotopes of N (15N, 14N) and carbon (13C, 12C) were determined for aggregate host tree and epiphytic lichen samples, as well as representative samples of upper organic and soil horizons (Ae and Bf) from beneath host trees. As expected, N2-fixing cyanolichens had 2–6-fold greater N-contents than chlorolichens and a δ15N close to atmospheric N2, while foliage and chlorolichens were more depleted in 15N. By contrast, soils at all trees and sites were 15N-enriched (positive δ15N), with declining (not significant) δ15N with increased tree-level cyanolichen abundance. Lichen functional groups and tree foliage fell into three distinct groups with respect to δ13C; the tripartite cyanolichen Lobaria pulmonaria (lightest), host-tree needles (intermediate), and bipartite cyanolichens, hair (Alectoria and Bryoria spp.) and chlorolichens (heaviest). Branch height of host trees was an effective predictor of needle δ13C. Our results showed a modest positive correlation between host tree foliage N and cyanolichen abundance, supporting our initial hypothesis that higher cyanolichen abundances would elevate host tree foliar N. Further study is required to determine if high cyanolichen abundance enhances host tree and/or stand-level productivity in sub-boreal forests of central BC, Canada.
Forests2015, 6(8), 2571-2587; doi:10.3390/f6082571 - published 29 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The depletion of root-available calcium in northern forests soils exposed to decades of increased acid deposition adversely affects forest health and productivity. Laboratory studies indicated the potential of wood-decay fungi to restore lost calcium to the rooting zone of trees. This study reports changes in concentrations of Ca, Mg, and K during decay of sapwood of spruce, maple, hemlock, and birch at two locations in northern New England, USA. Concentrations of exchangeable Ca, Mg, and Al in decayed wood residues after 10 and 12 years of ground contact were also compared. Significant loss of mass indicated by decreasing wood density occurred after two to eight years in conifers and after only two years in hardwoods. A significant gain in wood K was observed at two years, but the gain was not sustained. A significant gain in Ca concentration occurred by six years and that gain was sustained for 12 years. Concentrations of Mg varied. No significant difference in exchangeable Ca concentration was observed between decayed wood residue of spruce and maple and the forest floor. However, decayed wood residue had a much lower molar Al/Ca ratio, a conditional characteristic of sites with high root-available Ca.