, Volume 132, Issue 5-6, pp 851-864

Productivity and optimal management of the uneven-aged hardwood forests of Hyrcania

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Abstract

Hyrcania is a productive region near the southern coast of Caspian Sea. Her forests are mostly uneven-aged beach-dominated hardwood mixtures. There is increasing willingness to treat these forests without clear-felling, following the ideas of continuous cover management. However, lack of growth and yield models have delayed this endeavor, and no instructions for uneven-aged management have been issued so far. This study developed a set of models that enable the simulation of stand development in alternative management schedules. The models were used to optimize stand structure and the way in which various initial stands should be converted to the optimal uneven-aged structure. The model set consists of individual-tree diameter increment model, individual-tree height model, survival model, and a model for ingrowth. The models indicate that the sustainable yield of the forests ranges from 2.2 to 7 mha−1 a−1 in uneven-aged management, depending on species composition. Better ingrowth would substantially enhance productivity. The optimal stand structure for maximum sustained yield has a wide descending diameter distribution, the largest trees of the post-cutting stand being 80–100 cm in dbh. If cuttings are conducted at 30- or 40-year intervals, they should remove 20–40 largest trees per hectare. Despite moderate growth rate, uneven-aged management produces high incomes, 850–1,000 UDS ha−1a−1, because the timber assortments that are obtained from the removed large trees have very high selling prices. Optimal conversion to uneven-aged structure showed that the steady-state stand structure depends on initial stand condition and discount rate when the length of the conversion period is fixed. Discount rates higher than 1 % lead to reduced wood production, heavy cuttings, and low basal areas of the steady-state forest.

Communicated by Christian Ammer.