, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 720-737

Even-Aged and Uneven-Aged Forest Management in Boreal Fennoscandia: A Review

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Abstract

Since WWII, forest management in Fennoscandia has primarily been based on even-aged stand management, clear cut harvesting and thinning from below. As an alternative, uneven-aged management, based on selection cutting of individual trees or small groups of trees, has been proposed. In this review we discuss the theoretical aspects of ecology and economics of the two management approaches. We also review peer-reviewed studies from boreal Fennoscandia, which have aimed at comparing the outcomes of uneven-aged and the conventional even-aged forest management. According to a common view the main obstacle of practicing uneven-aged forestry is its low economic performance. However, the reviewed studies did not offer any straightforward support for this view and several studies have found uneven-aged management to be fully competitive with existing even-aged management. Studies on the ecological aspects indicated that selection cuttings maintain mature or late-successional forest characteristics and species assemblages better than even-aged management, at least at the stand scale and in the short term. We conclude that although the number of relevant studies has increased in recent years, the ecological and economic performance of alternative management methods still remains poorly examined, especially for those stands with multiple tree species and also at wider spatial and temporal scales. For future research we advocate a strategy that fully takes into consideration the interdisciplinary nature of forest management and is better connected to social goals and latest theoretical and methodological developments in ecology and economics.