, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 5-18

Creating landscape patterns by forest cutting: Ecological consequences and principles

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Landscape structural characteristics, such as patch size, edge length, and configuration, are altered markedly when management regimes are imposed on primeval landscapes. The ecological consequences of clearcutting patterns were explored by using a model of the dispersed patch or checkerboard system currently practiced on federal forest lands in the western United States. Thresholds in landscape structure were observed on a gradient of percentages of landscape cutover. Probability of disturbance,e.g., wildfire and windthrow, and biotic components,e.g., species diversity and game populations, are highly sensitive to these structural changes. Altering the spatial configuration and size of clearcuts provides an opportunity to create alternative landscapes that differ significantly in their ecological characteristics. Both ecosystem and heterogeneous landscape perspectives are critical in resource management.