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Risk of Snow Damage in Unmanaged and Managed Stands of Scots Pine, Norway Spruce and Birch

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The aim of this study was to assess the risk of snow damage to trees in unmanaged and managed stands of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.] and birch (Betula spp.) over a rotation. The risk assessment was based on the prediction of critical snow loads in interaction with the windspeed at which trees can be expected to break or be uprooted, and on the frequency of long-term extremes of precipitation and of suitable temperature conditions for the accumulation of snow on the tree crowns. The Scots pine stands were found to be more susceptible to snow damage than the others, and an unmanaged stand of Scots pine to be more susceptible to break and uproot than a managed one. Correspondingly, an unmanaged stand of Norway spruce was more susceptible to stem breakage than a managed one, but less susceptible to uprooting. Neither unmanaged nor managed birch stands were likely to suffer any kind of snow damage. The susceptibility of unmanaged stands is caused by low tapering of the trees. Based on the frequency of long-term extremes in precipitation at the temperatures needed for snow accumulation on tree crowns, critical snow loads of 10-19, 20-29 and 30-39 kg m-2 occurred 19.3, 3.3 and 1.3 times in a decade in southern Finland. Critical snow loads of 10-19, 20-29, 30-39 and 60-69 kg m-2 occurred in northern Finland 17.0, 6.3, 1.7 and 0.3 times in a decade.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Faculty of Forestry, University of Joensuu, P.O. Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland

Publication date: November 25, 2000

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