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The Response of Conifer and Broad-Leaved Trees and Shrubs to Wildfire and Clearcut Logging in the Boreal Forests of Central Labrador

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To assess the differences between forest management and natural disturbance, we retrospectively compared crown cover of woody plant species between burned and clearcut sites after 5, 14, and 27 years of succession. All 16 sites had been dominated by black spruce (Picea mariana) before disturbance. We found no difference in species richness between disturbance types, but richness was lowest on 5-year-old sites for both disturbances. Burned and clearcut sites differed in the cover of woody plant species, differences increasing slightly with time since disturbance. Both balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and black spruce were more abundant on 14- and 27-year-old clearcut plots than burned plots. Black spruce cover was always greater than fir, but the spruce:fir ratio on clearcut plots was lower than on burned plots. Our data suggest that fire and clearcut logging affect postdisturbance succession differently. Contrary to other studies, logging resulted in more commercially valuable black spruce than fire, and broad-leaved woody plants were not in greater abundance on logged sites. However, the persistence of fir through logging suggests that the resulting forest would be of lower commercial value than a pure black spruce forest.
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Keywords: Black spruce; logging; natural disturbance management; wildfire

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods P.O. Box 3014 Station B, Happy Valley-Goose Bay NL Canada A0P 1E0 2: College of the North Atlantic Labrador West Campus Labrador City NL Canada A2V 2Y1

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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