, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 720–737 | Cite as

Even-Aged and Uneven-Aged Forest Management in Boreal Fennoscandia: A Review

  • Timo KuuluvainenEmail author
  • Olli Tahvonen
  • Tuomas Aakala
Review Paper


Since WWII, forest management in Fennoscandia has primarily been based on even-aged stand management, clear cut harvesting and thinning from below. As an alternative, uneven-aged management, based on selection cutting of individual trees or small groups of trees, has been proposed. In this review we discuss the theoretical aspects of ecology and economics of the two management approaches. We also review peer-reviewed studies from boreal Fennoscandia, which have aimed at comparing the outcomes of uneven-aged and the conventional even-aged forest management. According to a common view the main obstacle of practicing uneven-aged forestry is its low economic performance. However, the reviewed studies did not offer any straightforward support for this view and several studies have found uneven-aged management to be fully competitive with existing even-aged management. Studies on the ecological aspects indicated that selection cuttings maintain mature or late-successional forest characteristics and species assemblages better than even-aged management, at least at the stand scale and in the short term. We conclude that although the number of relevant studies has increased in recent years, the ecological and economic performance of alternative management methods still remains poorly examined, especially for those stands with multiple tree species and also at wider spatial and temporal scales. For future research we advocate a strategy that fully takes into consideration the interdisciplinary nature of forest management and is better connected to social goals and latest theoretical and methodological developments in ecology and economics.


Even-aged forestry Uneven-aged forestry Biodiversity Optimal harvesting Forest economics Natural disturbance emulation 



We thank Ruut Rabinowitsch-Jokinen for help in data analysis and two anonymous reviewers who commented on an earlier version of the manuscript. The research was partly funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as part of the Forest Finnish Biodiversity Programme (METSO). Olli Tahvonen is grateful to the Maj and Tor Nessling foundation and Academy of Finland for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timo Kuuluvainen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Olli Tahvonen
    • 1
  • Tuomas Aakala
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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