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Potentials of Natural Tree Regeneration after Clearcutting in Subalpine Forests

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Abstract:

Regeneration of interior mountain forests still is not adequately understood, although these forests are subject to intensified use over the last decades. We examined factors influencing the success of natural tree regeneration after harvesting in the Engelmann spruce–subalpine fir zone of the Monashee Mountains, British Columbia, Canada. Distance from the forest edge was an important factor for regeneration; at distances exceeding 70 m from the forest edge only 50% of plots showed sufficient natural regeneration to meet stocking targets compared with 90% of plots closer to forest edges. Seedling density and growth were superior in the more protected southern portions of clearcuts. Seedling growth was less in plots containing high cover of downed woody debris. There was no relationship between understory plant diversity or composition and tree seedling regeneration. However, cover of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) had a significant negative relationship with density but not growth of tree seedlings, particularly for lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia). Cover of fireweed declined substantially within the first 10 years after clearcutting. We conclude that natural regeneration of trees has potential to help achieve stocking targets and also to maintain natural diversity of tree species if spatial constraints, especially thresholds in clearcut size, are considered.

Keywords: clearcut size; dispersal; edge effect; fireweed; woody debris

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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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 Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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