In the boreal zone the major drivers of change of forest age class distributions and structures include the use of clearcut short-rotation harvesting, more frequent and severe natural disturbances due to climate warming in certain regions. The decline in old forest area, and increase in managed young forest lacking natural post-disturbance structural legacies, represent a major transformation in the ecological conditions of the boreal forest beyond historical limits of variability. This may introduce a threat to biodiversity, ecosystem resilience and long-term adaptive capacity of the forest ecosystem.
To safeguard boreal forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and to maintain the multiple services provided to societies by this forest biome, it is pivotal to maintain an adequate share and the ecological qualities of young post-disturbance stages, along with mature forest stages with old-growth characteristics. This requires management for natural post-disturbance legacy structures, and innovative use of diverse uneven-aged and continuous cover management approaches to maintain critical late-successional forest structures in landscapes. The paper can be found at: https://doi.org/10.1186 s40663-018-0142-2
We examined and mapped the amount, structural features, site characteristics and spatial distribution of dead standing pine trees over a ten hectare area in an unmanaged boreal forest landscape in the Kalevala National Park in Russian Viena Karelia. After their death, Scots pine trees can remain standing for decades and sometimes up to 200 years, forming long-lasting and ecologically important structures in boreal forest landscapes. Standing dead pines decay very slowly and with time develop into ‘kelo’ trees, which are characterized by hard wood with silvery-colored appearance. These kelo trees represent an ecologically important, long lasting and visually striking element of the structure of natural pine-dominated forests in boreal Fennoscandia that is nowadays virtually absent from managed forest landscapes. See study here.
Above: Examples of different kelo structures contributing to forest structural and substrate diversity. (a) A fairly recently died partly debarked tree (often fall of bark is accelerated by woodpecker foraging). (b) Old kelo tree with fire scarring and charred wood in the trunk base. (c) A kelo with a cavity. The tree was made hollow by the Boreal Carpenter Ant (Camponotus herculeanus). (d) A large hollow broken kelo tree; such hollow broken trees are used for nesting by e.g. the Great Grey Owl. Photographs by Timo Kuuluvainen.
Kuuluvainen, T. 2016. Ecosystem management of the boreal forest. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Sciences. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.15
The paper reviews the current understanding and ideas of ecosystem management when applied to the boreal forest. Declines in managed forest biodiversity and structural complexity, combined with rapidly changing climatic conditions, can pose a risk to forest health and long-term provisioning of important ecosystem goods and services. I concluded that ecosystem management in the boreal forest calls for a transition from plantation-type forestry towards more diversified management inspired by natural forest structure and dynamics.
Take a look at the article here