Silvicultural practices, effective fire suppression, and increased browser densities have profoundly altered structural diversity in boreal forests. Prescribed burning and retention forestry may counteract losses in structural diversity in managed forests, by maintaining higher deciduous admixture. We constructed an experiment on 18 sites with three types of timber harvesting (uncut, cut with retention, and clearcut) and burned half these sites. Subsequently, we established a herbivore treatment with three compartments (unfenced, fenced excluding moose (Alces alces), and fenced excluding moose and hares (Lepus spp.)). In these compartments, we planted rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), European aspen (Populus tremula), and silver birch (Betula pendula) seedlings, and monitored these for 17 years. Birch and rowan mortality were lower on cut and burned sites, with retention further enhancing birch survival on these sites. Retention without burning did not lower seedling mortality of any tree species. While browsing resulted in greater mortality on cut sites, burning appeared to greatly reduce browsing on birch and rowan. On mature uncut sites, seedlings of all tree species exhibited high mortality. Our findings show that deciduous tree recruitment can be improved through prescribed burning, particularly for birch and rowan, and that browsing impacts on deciduous trees depend on forest age.
Hardenbol, M.A.A., den Herder, M., Kouki, D.J., 2020. Long-term effects of prescribed burning, tree retention, and browsing on deciduous tree recruitment in European boreal forests [WWW Document]. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2020-0231.