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Review article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Salvage logging effects on regulating ecosystem services and fuel loads

Leverkus, Alexandro B.; Gustafsson, Lena; Lindenmayer, David B.; Castro, Jorge; Benayas, Jose Maria Rey; Ranius, Thomas; Thorn, Simon


Salvage logging, or logging after natural disturbances such as wildfires, insect outbreaks, and windstorms, is carried out to recover some of a forest's natural and/or economic capital. However, trade-offs between management objectives and a lack of consensus on the ecological consequences of salvage logging impair science-based decision making on the management of forests after natural disturbances. We conducted a global meta-analysis of the impacts of salvage logging on regulating ecosystem services and on fuel loads, as a frequent post-disturbance objective is preventing subsequent wildfires that could be fueled by the accumulation of dead trunks and branches. Salvage logging affected ecosystem services in a moderately negative way, regardless of disturbance type and severity, time elapsed since salvage logging, intensity of salvage logging, and the group of regulating ecosystem services being considered. However, prolonging the time between natural disturbance and salvage logging mitigated negative effects on regulating ecosystem services. Salvage logging had no overall effect on surface fuels; rather, different fuel types responded differently depending on the time elapsed since salvage logging. Delaying salvage logging by similar to 2-4 years may reduce negative ecological impacts without affecting surface fuel loads.

Published in

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
2020, Volume: 18, number: 7, pages: 391-400
Publisher: WILEY