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Is generalisation of uneven-aged management in mountain forests the key to improve biodiversity conservation within forest landscape mosaics?

Abstract

Context

Uneven-aged management systems based on selection silviculture have become popular in European mountain forests and progressively replace other silvicultural practices. In time, this trend could lead to a homogenisation of the forest mosaic with consequences on structural indices recognised as beneficial to forest biodiversity.

Aims

This study was conducted to investigate the potential effects of a generalisation of the selection silvicultural system on structural diversity in the forest landscape with consequences for forest biodiversity conservation.

Methods

We compared four structural indices (tree species richness, diameter heterogeneity, deadwood volume and basal area of mature trees) in five different stand types typical of the northern French Alps, using forest plot data in the Vercors mountain range. Through virtual landscape simulations, we then calculated predicted mean proportions of stand types under two different conservation strategies: (i) maximising mean index values at the landscape level and (ii) maximising the number of plots in the landscape with index values above given thresholds.

Results

Multi-staged forests did not maximise all indices, the best solution being to combine the five stand types in uneven proportions to improve biodiversity conservation.

Conclusion

The expansion of selection silviculture in European heterogeneous forest landscapes could enhance biodiversity conservation if other stand types with complementary structural characteristics are maintained.

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Acknowledgments

The map of forest stand structure was provided by the National Forest Office (NFO), and we thank all the local forest managers who contributed to the field work preparation. Several people assisted in the field, and this research could not have been done without their help. We especially thank Marc Fuhr, Eric Mermin, Gilles Favier, Pascal Tardif, Sophie Labonne, Romain Verger, David Thomasset and Jonathan Charles. Special appreciation goes to Valentine Lafond for her comments that helped us in improving the manuscript as well as Ron Smith from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology who helped with valuable comments and the editing of the final manuscript. We also thank the anonymous reviewers, the editor and the associate editor for their valuable comments that also strongly helped to improve the manuscript. This research was conducted on the long-term research site Zone Atelier Alpes, a member of LTER France.

Funding

This work was financially supported by a graduate student research fellowship to M. Redon from Grenoble University, France, and by funds from the FORGECO project (ANR-09-STRA-02-01).

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Thomas Cordonnier.

Additional information

Contributions of the co-authors

Mathilde Redon: selecting structural indices, designing the experiment and doing field work, ranking of stand types according to the results of statistical analysis and writing the paper.

Sandra Luque: supervising the work and revising the paper.

Thomas Cordonnier: supervising the research project, designing the experiment and doing field work, performing the simulation study and writing the paper.

Frédéric Gosselin: performing statistical analyses and writing corresponding parts; revising the paper.

Handling Editor: Laurent Bergès

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Redon, M., Luque, S., Gosselin, F. et al. Is generalisation of uneven-aged management in mountain forests the key to improve biodiversity conservation within forest landscape mosaics?. Annals of Forest Science 71, 751–760 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-014-0371-7

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Keywords

  • Uneven-aged management
  • Selection silviculture
  • Biodiversity indicators
  • Stand structural diversity
  • Mountain forests
  • Landscape homogenisation