Grazing and abandonment determine different tree dynamics in wood-pastures
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- Oldén, A., Komonen, A., Tervonen, K. et al. Ambio (2017) 46: 227. doi:10.1007/s13280-016-0821-6
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Wood-pastures are threatened biotopes in which trees and livestock grazing maintain high conservation values. However, browsing may threaten tree regeneration, whereas abandonment leads to tree encroachment. We studied the regeneration of trees in a grazed and abandoned boreal wood-pastures. In grazed sites, the density of young spruces (Picea abies) was high, while the density of young birches (Betula spp.) was very low. Sprucification can be prevented only by removing spruces. The number of young birches and pines (Pinus sylvestris) was correlated with the number of junipers (Juniperus communis), probably because thorny junipers protect palatable seedlings from browsing. In abandoned sites, deciduous trees and spruces regenerated abundantly. In the long term, both grazing and abandonment lead to changes in tree species compositions and low diversity wood-pastures. Landscape scale planning and disturbance dynamics are needed for the creation of new wood-pastures and the maintenance of all pasture types within the landscape.