Using multi-source remote sensing data to classify larch plantations in Northeast China and support the development of multi-purpose silviculture

  • Guiduo Shang
  • Jiaojun Zhu
  • Tian Gao
  • Xiao Zheng
  • Jinxin Zhang
Original Paper


Due to increasing timber demands, large areas of secondary forests have been converted to larch plantations (LPs) in Northeast China because the secondary forests could not produce timber as much as LPs. However, there are a series of ecological problems such as lower soil fertility, reduced water-holding capacity and acidification of surface runoff water occurring in LPs because of the single-species composition of LPs. Therefore, a guidance on how to transform LPs into larch-broadleaf mixed forests (LBMFs) at a large spatial scale is needed for local foresters. First, Landsat time series data set and SPOT-5 images were combined to map the spatial–temporal distribution of LPs in Northeast China. Then, the topographical characteristics of LPs in 2010s were determined. Furthermore, three sub-regions of LPs were divided closely linking to their ecosystem services and forest management aims. Finally, detailed information on how to transform the LPs into LBMFs was given according to the three sub-regions. The results showed that the area of LPs increased during 1980s and 2010s, and reached 2.61 million ha in 2010s. Of which, 0.72 million ha (27.6%) and 1.89 million ha (72.4%) LPs distributed in slopes less than 5° and greater than 5°, respectively. Of the LPs (72.4%) in slopes greater than 5°, 48.7 and 23.7% located in downslope (LPs locating at the down slope of adjacent secondary forests in the same aspect) and upslope (LPs locating at the up slope of adjacent secondary forests in the same aspect), respectively; 0.10 million ha (3.8%) located in slopes greater than 25°. The LPs were divided into Sub-Regions-I, II, III according to slopes. For Sub-region-I (top role is to produce timber), self-fertilizing shrub species can be introduced after clean cutting for young-aged LPs, and release thinning can be applied for middle-aged LPs, fast growth thinning for near-matured LPs, and clear cutting for matured LPs. For Sub-Region-II (the priority is to provide water conservation combined with timber production), the LPs should be induced into LBMFs. The LPs located the downslope positions in Sub-Region-II can be transformed to LBMFs by natural regeneration of broadleaved tree species after thinning because of enough seed sources of broadleaved tree species from the secondary forests locating the upslope positions. The LPs located the upslope positions or the region where seed sources of broadleaved tree species are unavailable in Sub-Region-II must be induced to LBMFs by artificial regeneration. For Sub-Region-III (the preference is only for water conservation because the slope is greater than 25°), the LPs should be particularly protected from intensive disturbances, and induced into LBMFs by natural regeneration.


Larch plantation Natural larch forest Visual interpretation Slope position Ecosystem services 


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guiduo Shang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jiaojun Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tian Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiao Zheng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jinxin Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Management, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Qingyuan Forest CERNChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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