Landscape Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 1913–1929 | Cite as

Effects of 80 years of forest management on landscape structure and pattern in the eastern Canadian boreal forest

  • Dominique BoucherEmail author
  • Louis De Grandpré
  • Daniel Kneeshaw
  • Benoît St-Onge
  • Jean-Claude Ruel
  • Kaysandra Waldron
  • Jean-Martin Lussier
Research Article



Forest management alters patterns generated by natural disturbances, particularly in ecosystems with infrequent fires. Management effects can differ according to spatial scale and affect ecological processes.


To assess the effect of 80 years of forest management at both the landscape and burn/harvest scales on forest age, composition, density, spatial pattern and heterogeneity.


Forest inventory maps and satellite images were used to compare two contiguous landscapes, respectively managed and unmanaged, of the eastern boreal forest of Canada, in a region with infrequent fires. Burns and harvests occurring from 1920–1950 were also compared.


In addition to reducing the proportion of old-growth stands in the landscape, forest management changed forest composition at both scales, favouring the late-successional species balsam fir. Landscape metrics indicated that old-growth forests and spruce-dominated ones were more fragmented, less connected, and confined to smaller patches in the managed landscape than in the unmanaged one. Forest management increased heterogeneity at the landscape scale, but decreased it at the burn/harvest scale. Logging had a homogenizing effect at the burn/harvest scale by attenuating the effect of the physical environment on forest density.


This study provides knowledge to help reduce effects of forest management at both scales. In this forest region with low fire recurrence, the goal should be to manage for greater forest heterogeneity at the burn/harvest scale whereas, at the landscape scale, restoration strategies should aim to create large contiguous patches of coniferous forests to increase spatial continuity as these were reduced by past management activities.


Logging Fires Multi-scale Heterogeneity Forest composition Old-growth forests 



This work was funded by the Fonds de recherche Nature et technologies du QuébecProgramme de recherche en partenariat sur l’aménagement et l’environnement forestier. We thank Martin Simard and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on the manuscript, Isabelle Lamarre for English editing.

Supplementary material

10980_2015_220_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominique Boucher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Louis De Grandpré
    • 1
  • Daniel Kneeshaw
    • 2
  • Benoît St-Onge
    • 3
  • Jean-Claude Ruel
    • 4
  • Kaysandra Waldron
    • 4
  • Jean-Martin Lussier
    • 5
  1. 1.Laurentian Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest ServiceNatural Resources CanadaQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Centre d’étude de la forêt (CEF)Université du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Département de géographieUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Centre d’étude de la forêt (CEF), Département des sciences du bois et de la forêtUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  5. 5.Canadian Wood Fibre CentreNatural Resources CanadaQuébecCanada

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