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Special Issue "Stand Dynamics of Forests Managed Using Variable Retention Harvesting Systems"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 November 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Brian J. Palik

Science Leader for Applied Forest Ecology, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 1831 Hwy. 169 E. Grand Rapids, MN 55744, USA
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +1 218-326-7116
Interests: disturbance ecology; ecological forestry; stand dynamics and development; plant community composition and diversity; regeneration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Variable retention harvesting (VRH) systems are increasingly being used world-wide to manage forests in ways that better emulate the structural outcomes of the natural disturbances and developments that occurs in natural forests. As an approach, VRH is meant to sustain the ecological integrity (species diversity, biotic communities, productivity, ecosystem processes) of managed forests, while also producing timber. Because VRH approaches often result in forests with complex structural conditions and mixed-species composition, their development and dynamics may not be as predictable as less-complex, even-aged, single-species forests. Better quantification of the dynamics of forest managed with VRH is needed to inform the development of silvicultural approaches, guidelines, and models. In this special issue, we invite contributions that examines the dynamics of forests managed using VRH approaches. The focus of contributed papers could be on any aspect of “stand dynamics” in forests managed using VRH, and may include, but is not limited to, tree regeneration, forest growth and productivity, tree mortality, and deadwood dynamics.

Dr. Brian J. Palik
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Biotic Disturbance
  • Variable retention harvesting
  • VRH
  • Emulation of natural disturbance
  • Complex stand structure
  • Mixed-species stands
  • Forest dynamics
  • Multi-cohort

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Regeneration Responses to Management for Old-Growth Characteristics in Northern Hardwood-Conifer Forests
Forests 2017, 8(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8020045
Received: 27 November 2016 / Revised: 3 February 2017 / Accepted: 7 February 2017 / Published: 16 February 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2073 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Successful tree regeneration is essential for sustainable forest management, yet it can be limited by the interaction of harvesting effects and multiple ecological drivers. In northern hardwood forests, for example, there is uncertainty whether low-intensity selection harvesting techniques will result in adequate and [...] Read more.
Successful tree regeneration is essential for sustainable forest management, yet it can be limited by the interaction of harvesting effects and multiple ecological drivers. In northern hardwood forests, for example, there is uncertainty whether low-intensity selection harvesting techniques will result in adequate and desirable regeneration. Our research is part of a long-term study that tests the hypothesis that a silvicultural approach called “structural complexity enhancement” (SCE) can accelerate the development of late-successional forest structure and functions. Our objective is to understand the regeneration dynamics following three uneven-aged forestry treatments with high levels of retention: single-tree selection, group selection, and SCE. Regeneration density and diversity can be limited by differing treatment effects on or interactions among light availability, competitive environment, substrate, and herbivory. To explore these relationships, manipulations and controls were replicated across 2 ha treatment units at two Vermont sites. Forest inventory data were collected pre-harvest and periodically over 13 years post-harvest. We used mixed effects models with repeated measures to evaluate the effect of treatment on seedling and sapling density and diversity (Shannon–Weiner H’). The treatments were all successful in recruiting a sapling class with significantly greater sapling densities compared to the controls. However, undesirable and prolific beech (Fagus americana) sprouting dominates some patches in the understory of all the treatments, creating a high degree of spatial variability in the competitive environment for regeneration. Multivariate analyses suggest that while treatment had a dominant effect, other factors were influential in driving regeneration responses. These results indicate variants of uneven-aged systems that retain or enhance elements of stand structural complexity—including old-growth characteristics—can generally foster abundant regeneration of important late successional tree species depending on site conditions, but they may require beech control where beech sprouting inhibits desired regeneration. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Natural Regeneration in a Multi-Layered Pinus sylvestris-Picea abies Forest after Target Diameter Harvest and Soil Scarification
Forests 2017, 8(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8020035
Received: 1 December 2016 / Revised: 18 January 2017 / Accepted: 24 January 2017 / Published: 28 January 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (858 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Forest management in Sweden can be characterized by even-aged silviculture heavily relying on three established harvest regimes: clearcutting, the seed-tree method, and the shelterwood system. Less intense, small-scale retention harvest systems such as single tree and group selection harvest are rarely used. In [...] Read more.
Forest management in Sweden can be characterized by even-aged silviculture heavily relying on three established harvest regimes: clearcutting, the seed-tree method, and the shelterwood system. Less intense, small-scale retention harvest systems such as single tree and group selection harvest are rarely used. In addition, natural regeneration dynamics without enrichment planting have barely been studied. Consequently, this study examined natural regeneration establishment in a multi-layered Pinus sylvestris-Picea abies forest stand in southwest Sweden after target diameter harvesting and soil scarification. The creation of forest canopy gaps had a positive effect on total seedling density five years after harvest, mainly due to a significantly higher number of Betula pendula individuals. Seedling density of more desirable tree species suitable for continuous cover forestry such as Fagus sylvatica, Quercus petraea and Picea abies also increased substantially in gaps when compared to pre-harvest conditions or the unharvested plots. In contrast, soil scarification did not increase the number of seedlings of desired tree species due to a significant decrease in Picea abies abundance. Soil moisture and gap size significantly improved Betula pendula seedling establishment while a larger number of Quercus petraea seedlings were observed in Vaccinium myrtillus patches. We conclude that canopy gaps are beneficial under the encountered stand conditions to initiate forest regeneration, and that soil scarification without the timely occurrence of a mast year of desired tree species is not effective in the type of forest studied. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Influence of Mature Overstory Trees on Adjacent 12-Year Regeneration and the Woody Understory: Aggregated Retention versus Intact Forest
Forests 2017, 8(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8020031
Received: 21 November 2016 / Revised: 13 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
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Abstract
Retention harvesting, an approach that intentionally retains legacy features such as mature overstory trees, provides options for achieving ecological objectives. At the same time, retained overstory trees may compete with the nearby recovering understory for resources, and much remains to be learned about [...] Read more.
Retention harvesting, an approach that intentionally retains legacy features such as mature overstory trees, provides options for achieving ecological objectives. At the same time, retained overstory trees may compete with the nearby recovering understory for resources, and much remains to be learned about potential trade-offs with regeneration objectives, particularly over extended time periods. We assessed the influence of aggregated retention (reserved mature overstory and understory patches) versus intact forest on structure and productivity (standing biomass) of the adjacent woody understory and regeneration 12 years after harvest in northern Minnesota, USA. Each site was dominated by Populus tremuloides Michx., a species that regenerates prolifically via root sprouts following disturbance. Overall, fewer differences than expected occurred between the effects of intact forest and aggregated retention on regeneration, despite the small size (0.1 ha) of aggregates. Instead, harvest status and distance from harvest edge had a greater influence on structure and standing woody biomass. Proximity to aggregates reduced large sapling biomass (all species, combined) relative to open conditions, but only up to 5 m into harvested areas. This suggests the trade-off for achieving productivity objectives might be minimal if managers use retention aggregates in this region to achieve ecological objectives and meet management guidelines. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Can Retention Harvest Maintain Natural Structural Complexity? A Comparison of Post-Harvest and Post-Fire Residual Patches in Boreal Forest
Forests 2016, 7(10), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7100243
Received: 9 August 2016 / Revised: 30 September 2016 / Accepted: 5 October 2016 / Published: 21 October 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2070 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Variable retention harvest promotes biodiversity conservation in managed boreal forests by ensuring forest continuity and structural complexity. However, do post-harvest and post-fire patches maintain the same structural complexity? This study compares post-harvest and post-fire residual patches and proposes retention modalities that can maintain [...] Read more.
Variable retention harvest promotes biodiversity conservation in managed boreal forests by ensuring forest continuity and structural complexity. However, do post-harvest and post-fire patches maintain the same structural complexity? This study compares post-harvest and post-fire residual patches and proposes retention modalities that can maintain the same structural complexity as in natural forests, here considering both continuous forest stands and post-fire residual patches. In boreal black spruce forests, 41 post-fire residual patches, and 45 post-harvest retention patches of varying size and ages (exposure time to disturbed matrix) and 37 continuous forest stands were classified into six diameter structure types. Types 1 (inverted-J) and 2 (trunked-unimodal) characterized stands dominated by small trees. The abundance of small trees decreased and the abundance of large trees increased from Type 1 to Type 6. Type 6 had the most irregular structure with a wide range of diameters. This study indicates that: (1) old post-harvest residual retentions maintained the range of structural complexity found in natural stands; (2) Types 1 and 2 were generally associated with young post-fire patches and post-harvest retention clumps; (3) the structure of residual patches containing only small trees was usually younger (in terms of the age of the original forest from which residual patches were formed) than those with larger trees. To avoid the risk of simplifying the structure, retention patches should be intentionally oriented towards Types 3–6, dominated by intermediate and large trees. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Forest Restoration Using Variable Density Thinning: Lessons from Douglas-Fir Stands in Western Oregon
Forests 2016, 7(12), 310; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7120310
Received: 4 November 2016 / Revised: 24 November 2016 / Accepted: 1 December 2016 / Published: 7 December 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (4444 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A large research effort was initiated in the 1990s in western United States and Canada to investigate how the development of old-growth structures can be accelerated in young even-aged stands that regenerated following clearcut harvests, while also providing income and ecosystem services. Large-scale [...] Read more.
A large research effort was initiated in the 1990s in western United States and Canada to investigate how the development of old-growth structures can be accelerated in young even-aged stands that regenerated following clearcut harvests, while also providing income and ecosystem services. Large-scale experiments were established to compare effects of thinning arrangements (e.g., spatial variability) and residual densities (including leave islands and gaps of various sizes). Treatment effects were context dependent, varying with initial conditions and spatial and temporal scales of measurement. The general trends were highly predictable, but most responses were spatially variable. Thus, accounting for initial conditions at neighborhood scales appears to be critical for efficient restoration. Different components of stand structure and composition responded uniquely to restoration thinnings. Achieving a wide range of structures and composition therefore requires the full suite of silvicultural treatments, from leave islands to variable density thinnings and creation of large gaps. Trade-offs among ecosystem services occurred as result of these contrasting responses, suggesting that foresters set priorities where and when different vegetation structures are most desirable within a stand or landscape. Finally, the results suggested that foresters should develop restoration approaches that include multiple treatments. Full article
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