New Forests

, Volume 43, Issue 5–6, pp 601–613 | Cite as

Post-fire salvage logging increases restoration costs in a Mediterranean mountain ecosystem

  • Alexandro B. Leverkus
  • Carolina Puerta-Piñero
  • José Ramón Guzmán-Álvarez
  • Javier Navarro
  • Jorge Castro


Post-fire salvage logging (i.e. felling and removing burnt trees, often eliminating the remaining woody debris) is a practice routinely performed by forest managers worldwide. In Mediterranean-type ecosystems, salvage logging is considered a measure to reduce future reforestation costs, but this assumption remains largely untested. We made a cost analysis of different management schemes, addressing the immediate post-fire burnt-wood management as well as the costs and success of subsequent reforestation efforts. Two experimental 25-ha plots were established in a burnt pine reforestation of SE Spain, in which three replicates of three post-fire treatments were applied: non-intervention (NI), partial cut plus lopping (PCL; felling and lopping off the branches from most of the trees, leaving all biomass in situ), and salvage logging (SL). After 4 years, a mechanised reforestation was undertaken, and seedling mortality was monitored for 2 years. The cost of all management operations was recorded in situ, and the cost of re-planting the dead seedlings was estimated according to the expenses of previous reforestation. Initial cost of wood management was greatest in SL and zero in NI. Reforestation cost was highest in NI and lowest in SL, and seedling-mortality rates proved lowest in PCL (43 % vs. 51 % and 52 % in SL and NI, respectively). Considering all the post-fire management operations, salvage logging did not provide particular economic advantages for forest restoration, and had an overall cost of 3,436 ± 340 €/ha. By contrast, NI and PCL reduced total restoration costs by 50 and 35 %, respectively, and PCL indeed promoted restoration success. We suggest that the full cost of management operations needs to be considered when evaluating the economic implications of post-fire salvage logging.


Forest economics Nurse objects Post-fire restoration Salvage logging 



We thank the Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, and the Direction of the Natural and National Park of Sierra Nevada for fieldwork permission, treatment implementation, and facilities. We thank Francisco Vílchez Álvarez and Ernesto Punzano Nieto (Andalusian Water and Environment Agency) for cost data provision. Ángela Sánchez Miranda and Carlos Serrano Hermo provided invaluable fieldwork. This study was supported by Project CGL2008-01671 from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación and Project 10/2005 from the Organismo Autónomo de Parques Nacionales. CP-P had a postdoctoral fellowship (EX2009-0703) and AL had a Ph. D. grant from the Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (Ref: AP2010-0272).


  1. Ahtikoski A, Alenius V, Mäkitali K (2009) Scots pine stand establishment with special emphasis on uncertainty and cost-effectiveness, the case of northern Finland. New For 40:69–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbati A, Arianoutsou M, Corona P, De Las Heras J, Fernandes P, Moreira F, Papageorgiou K, Vallejo R, Xanthopoulos G (2010) Post-fire forest management in southern Europe: a COST action for gathering and disseminating scientific knowledge. iForest 3:5–7Google Scholar
  3. Bautista S, Gimeno T, Mayor AG, Gallego D (2004) Los tratamientos de la madera quemada tras los incendios forestales. In: Vallejo VR, Alloza JA (eds) La gestión del bosque mediterráneo. Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo, Valencia, pp 547–570Google Scholar
  4. Bowman DMJS, Balch JK, Artaxo P et al (2009) Fire in the earth system. Science 324:481–484PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bros V, Moreno-Rueda G, Santos X (2011) Does postfire management affect the recovery of Mediterranean communities? The case study of terrestrial gastropods. For Ecol Manage 261:611–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown JK, Reinhardt ED, Kramer KA (2003) Coarse woody debris: managing benefits and fire hazard in the recovering forest. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-105. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UTGoogle Scholar
  7. Castro J, Navarro R, Guzmán JR, Zamora R, Bautista S (2009) ¿Es conveniente retirar la madera quemada tras un incendio forestal? Quercus 281:34–41Google Scholar
  8. Castro J, Marañón-Jiménez S, Sánchez-Miranda A, Lorite J (2010a) Efecto del manejo de la madera quemada sobre la regeneración forestal post-incendio: desarrollo de técnicas blandas de restauración ecológica. In: Ramírez L, Asensio B (eds) Proyectos de investigación en parques nacionales: 2006-2009. Organismo Autónomo de Parques Nacionales, Spain, pp 139–157Google Scholar
  9. Castro J, Moreno-Rueda G, Hódar JA (2010b) Experimental test of postfire management in pine forests: impact of salvage logging versus partial cutting and nonintervention on bird-species assemblages. Conserv Biol 24:810–819PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Castro J, Allen CD, Molina-Morales M, Marañón-Jiménez S, Sánchez-Miranda A, Zamora R (2011) Salvage logging versus the use of burnt wood as a nurse object to promote post-fire tree seedling establishment. Restor Ecol 19:537–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Catry FX, Moreira F, Cardillo E, Pausas JG (2012) Post-fire management of cork oak forests. In: Moreira F, Arianoustou M, Corona P, De las Heras J (eds) Post-fire management and restoration of southern European forests. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 195–222Google Scholar
  12. Costanza R, dArge R, deGroot R et al (1997) The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crawley MJ (2007) The R book. Wiley, EnglandCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DellaSala DA, Karr JR, Schoennagel T, Perry D, Noss RF, Lindenmayer D, Beschta R, Hutto RL, Swanson ME, Evans J (2006) Post-fire logging debate ignores many issues. Science 314:51–52PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Denham AJ (2008) Seed predation limits post-fire recruitment in the waratah (Telopea speciosissima). Plant Ecol 199:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Donato D, Fontaine J, Campbell J et al (2006) Post-wildfire logging hinders regeneration and increases fire risk. Science 311:352PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. FAO (2007) State of the world’s forest 2007. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  18. Farber SC, Costanza R, Wilson MA (2002) Economic and ecological concepts for valuing ecosystem services. Ecol Econ 41:375–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haim A, Izhaki I (1994) Changes in rodent community during recovery from fire—relevance to conservation. Biodivers Conserv 3:573–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heal G (2000) Valuing ecosystem services. Ecosystems 3:24–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hebblewhite M, Munro RH, Merrill EH (2009) Trophic consequences of postfire logging in a wolf-ungulate system. For Ecol Manage 257:1053–1062CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hougner C, Colding J, Soderqvist T (2006) Economic valuation of a seed dispersal service in the Stockholm National Urban Park, Sweden. Ecol Econ 59:364–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Inbar M, Wittenberg L, Tamir M (1997) Soil erosion and forestry management after wildfire in a Mediterranean woodland, Mt. Carmel, Israel. Int J Wildland Fire 7:285–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jenkins MJ, Hebertson E, Page W, Jorgensen CA (2008) Bark beetles, fuels, fires and implications for forest management in the intermountain west. For Ecol Manage 254:16–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Karr J, Rhodes J, Minshall G, Hauer F, Beschta R, Frissell C, Perry D (2004) The effects of postfire salvage logging on aquatic ecosystems in the American west. Bioscience 54:1029–1033CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lindenmayer DB, Noss RF (2006) Salvage logging, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity conservation. Conserv Biol 20:949–958PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lindenmayer DB, Burton PJ, Franklin JF (2008) Salvage logging and its ecological consequences. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  28. Mallik AU, Bloom RG, Whisenant SG (2010) Seedbed filter controls post-fire succession. Basic Appl Ecol 11:170–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marañón-Jiménez S (2011) Efecto del manejo de la madera quemada después de un incendio sobre el ciclo del carbono y nutrientes en un ecosistema de montaña mediterránea. Doctoral ThesisGoogle Scholar
  30. Mavsar R, Varela E, Corona P, Barbati A, Marsh G (2012) Economic, legal and social aspects of post-fire management. In: Moreira F, Arianoustou M, Corona P, De las Heras J (eds) Post-fire management and restoration of southern European forests. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 45–78Google Scholar
  31. McIver JD, Starr L (2000) Environmental effects of post-fire logging: literature review and annotated bibliography. USDA Technical Report PNW-GTR-486Google Scholar
  32. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2003) Ecosystems and human well-being: a framework for assessment. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  33. Moreira F, Arianoustou M, Vallejo VR, De las Heras J, Corona P, Xanthopoulos G, Fernandes P, Papageorgiou K (2012) Setting the scene for post-fire management. In: Moreira F, Arianoustou M, Corona P, De las Heras J (eds) Post-fire management and restoration of southern European forests. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 1–20Google Scholar
  34. Noss RF, Lindenmayer DB (2006) The ecological effects of salvage logging after natural disturbance—introduction. Conserv Biol 20:946–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ordóñez J, Retana J (2004) Early reduction of post-fire recruitment of Pinus nigra by post-dispersal seed predation in different time-since-fire habitats. Ecography 27:449–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Puerta-Piñero C, Sánchez-Miranda A, Leverkus A, Castro J (2010) Management of burnt wood after fire affects post-dispersal acorn predation. For Ecol Manage 260:345–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. R Development Core Team (2010) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0.
  38. Ripple WJ, Larsen EJ (2001) The role of post-fire coarse woody debris in aspen regeneration. West J Appl For 16:61–64Google Scholar
  39. Ross D (1997) Bark beetle response to wildfire. Nat Resour News 7:1–2Google Scholar
  40. Rost J, Pons P, Bas JM (2009) Can salvage logging affect seed dispersal by birds into burned forests? Acta Oecol Int J Ecol 35:763–768CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rost J, Clavero M, Bas JM, Pons P (2010) Building wood debris piles benefits avian seed dispersers in burned and logged Mediterranean pine forests. For Ecol Manage 260:79–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Savill P, Evans J, Auclair D, Falck J (1997) Plantation silviculture in Europe. Oxford University Press, UKGoogle Scholar
  43. Serrano-Ortiz P, Marañón-Jiménez S, Reverter BR, Sánchez-Cañete EP, Castro J, Zamora R, Kowalski AS (2011) Post-fire salvage logging reduces carbon sequestration in Mediterranean coniferous forest. For Ecol Manage 262:2287–2296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tercero-Bucardo N, Kitzberger T, Veblen TT, Raffaele E (2007) A field experiment on climatic and herbivore impacts on post-fire tree regeneration in north-western Patagonia. J Ecol 95:771–779CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thompson JR, Spies TA, Ganio LM (2007) Reburn severity in managed and unmanaged vegetation in a large wildfire. PNAS 104:10743–10748PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thompson I, Mackey B, McNulty S, Mosseler A (2009) Forest resilience, biodiversity, and climate change: a synthesis of the biodiversity/resilience/stability relationship in forest ecosystems. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, MontrealGoogle Scholar
  47. Toivanen T, Liikanen V, Kotiaho JS (2009) Effects of forest restoration treatments on the abundance of bark beetles in Norway spruce forests of southern Finland. For Ecol Manage 257:117–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. United Nations Environment Programme (2010) Guidance manual for the valuation of regulating servicesGoogle Scholar
  49. Vallejo JR, Arianoutsou M, Moreira F (2012) Fire ecology and post-fire restoration approaches in Southern European forest types. In: Moreira F, Arianoustou M, Corona P, De las Heras J (eds) Post-fire management and restoration of southern European forests. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 93–119Google Scholar
  50. Van Nieuwstadt M, Sheil D, Kartawinata K (2001) The ecological consequences of logging in the burned forests of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Conserv Biol 15:1183–1186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Velasco FO, Hernández Y (2012) Transporte de madera por carretera en España: situación actual y conclusiones. Revista Montes 108:34–39Google Scholar
  52. Zar J (1996) Biostatistical analysis, 3rd edn. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhang JW, Webster J, Powers RF, Mills J (2008) Reforestation after the fountain fire in Northern California: an untold success story. J For 106:425–430Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandro B. Leverkus
    • 1
  • Carolina Puerta-Piñero
    • 2
  • José Ramón Guzmán-Álvarez
    • 3
  • Javier Navarro
    • 4
  • Jorge Castro
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Unit 0948, APO AASmithsonian Tropical Research InstituteWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Grupo de Investigación SilvopasciculturaUniversidad de CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  4. 4.Sierra Nevada National Park, Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de AndalucíaGranadaSpain

Personalised recommendations