Forests in Central Europe have been used since centuries and were systematically changed by silvicultural practices since the late 1700s. Focusing on possible biodiversity losses, forest stand management primarily impacts on the biodiversity attributes ‘composition, structure and functioning’ that are interlinked and incorporate different organizational and spatial ecosystem levels. Forest stand management can manipulate tree species diversity, which in turn affects stand structure and finally leads to changes in forest functions and services. We used meta-analyses to review 49 papers with 197 comparisons on compositional and structural diversity between unmanaged and managed forests as well as 53 comparisons of biomass productivity between mixed and monoculture forests throughout the temperate biome of Europe. Besides management impacts, for species and structural comparisons, we took time since abandonment of forest stand management into consideration when dealing with unmanaged forests. For species richness and diversity, we could not detect significant management effects; no significant influences of time since abandonment of management could be identified either. Structural attributes partly revealed considerable responses to forest stand management. Importantly, deadwood quantity, the number of microhabitats, and tree size diversity were reduced by forest stand management, while no effect was found for stand basal area and the number of living trees. Some of these effects become more pronounced with increasing time since abandonment. Forest productivity was significantly enhanced by regular moderate thinning compared with untreated stands and by tree species mixing compared with monospecific stands. Based on these results, we discuss the role of direct and indirect silvicultural effects, interactions between biodiversity components, the problem of defining the unmanaged reference state, and perspectives for forest stand management in practice.
European Journal of Forest Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 29, 2017
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