, Volume 10, Issue 8, pp 1261–1277 | Cite as

The Effects of Spatial Legacies following Shifting Management Practices and Fire on Boreal Forest Age Structure

  • Patrick M. A. James
  • Marie-Josée Fortin
  • Andrew Fall
  • Dan Kneeshaw
  • Christian Messier


Forest age structure and its spatial arrangement are important elements of sustainable forestry because of their effects on biodiversity and timber availability. Forest management objectives that include specific forest age structure may not be easily attained due to constraints imposed by the legacies of historical management and natural disturbance. We used a spatially explicit stochastic model to explore the synergetic effects of forest management and fire on boreal forest age structure. Specifically, we examined (1) the duration of spatial legacies of different management practices in the boreal forest, (2) how multiple shifts in management practices affect legacy duration and the spatial trajectories of forest age structure, and (3) how fire influences legacy duration and pattern development in combination with harvesting. Results based on 30 replicates of 500 years for each scenario indicate that (1) spatial legacies persist over 200 years and the rate at which legacies are overcome depends on whether new management targets are in synchrony with existing spatial pattern; (2) age specific goals were met faster after multiple management shifts due to the similar spatial scale of the preceding management types; (3) because large fires can erase the spatial pattern created by smaller disturbances, scenarios with fire had shorter lags than scenarios without fire. These results suggest that forest management goals can be accelerated by applying management at a similar spatial scale as existing spatial patterns. Also, management planning should include careful consideration of historical management as well as current and likely future disturbances.


stochastic spatially explicit model landscape pattern metrics ordination simulation modeling landscape legacies forest disturbance forest management forest age structure 



The work was funded through NSERC PGS-A and CFS-NSERC supplement to PJ and Sustainable Forest Management Network NCE grants to CM and others and DK and others. We would also like to acknowledge the help of B. Rayfield and two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the quality of manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick M. A. James
    • 1
  • Marie-Josée Fortin
    • 2
  • Andrew Fall
    • 3
  • Dan Kneeshaw
    • 4
  • Christian Messier
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of ForestryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Gowlland Technologies LtdVictoriaCanada
  4. 4.Centre d’Étude de la forêt (CEF)Université du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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