Testing prescribed fire as a tool to promote Scots pine Pinus sylvestris regeneration

  • Mark H. Hancock
  • Ron W. Summers
  • Andy Amphlett
  • Johanna Willi
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10342-009-0267-5

Cite this article as:
Hancock, M.H., Summers, R.W., Amphlett, A. et al. Eur J Forest Res (2009) 128: 319. doi:10.1007/s10342-009-0267-5

Abstract

Techniques for encouraging natural tree regeneration are of increasing interest to managers of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris forests. We tested prescribed fire at a management scale, with deer present or excluded, as a means of increasing rates of Scots pine forest expansion on heathland. At a semi-natural pinewood in Scotland, ten experimental blocks were established, within range of pine seed-fall. Each block comprised four, 100 m2 plots. Two plots at each site were burnt and two fenced, allowing the effects of burning on pine regeneration to be measured at two levels of deer abundance. We monitored pine seedlings, seed-fall, deer dung and vegetation for 5 years following treatment. Differences in seedling detection rates between treatments were quantified using dummy seedlings, and analyses corrected accordingly. Mean new pine seedling establishment was 9.8 times higher on burnt ground than unburnt ground (confidence intervals 3.2–30). Differences were even more pronounced in a year of high seed-fall, and following fires with low rates of spread. Establishment rates varied strongly between experimental blocks. Exclusion of deer increased establishment rates, but only in the first 2 years after fire. There was evidence that both seedling survival, and cumulative recruitment of older (over 12 months) seedlings, were improved by prescribed burning. Our results support the use of prescribed fire as a tool to promote increased Scots pine seedling establishment. This technique is likely to give strong fine-scale variation in seedling densities, and so would most suit areas where a variable spatial pattern of regeneration is sought, for landscape or naturalness reasons.

Keywords

Burning Deer Cervidae Heather Calluna vulgaris Seedling establishment 

Supplementary material

10342_2009_267_MOESM1_ESM.tif (301 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 1. Prescribed burning at an experimental site in spring 2002. A strip of vegetation has been ignited upwind of the burnt area (left) and heather within the strip is still burning (near camera) or nearly burnt (further from camera). The fire canes are visible in the burnt area and observations are under way. Two members of the management team and one of the attending machines can be seen behind the fire plot (TIFF 300 kb)
10342_2009_267_MOESM2_ESM.tif (303 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 2. An experimental block, four years after burning. The burnt area is in the foreground, with seed traps visible (TIFF 303 kb)
10342_2009_267_MOESM3_ESM.tif (350 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 3. A dummy (circled, left) and real (circled, right) Scots pine seedling have been photographed side by side. The coin is 27 mm in diameter. Dummy seedlings were placed at random locations, and were made in a range of sizes. The detection rate of dummy seedlings was used to estimate that of real ones (TIFF 350 kb)
10342_2009_267_MOESM4_ESM.tif (350 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 4. A well-established Scots pine seedling in burnt vegetation in May 2006 (TIFF 350 kb)
10342_2009_267_MOESM5_ESM.doc (40 kb)
Supplementary material (DOC 40 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark H. Hancock
    • 1
  • Ron W. Summers
    • 1
  • Andy Amphlett
    • 1
  • Johanna Willi
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Society for the Protection of BirdsInvernessUK