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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Keeping mixtures of Norway spruce and birch in production forests: insights from survey data

Holmstrom, Emma; Carlstrom, Therese; Goude, Martin; Lidman, Felicia Dahlgren; Felton, Adam


Admixtures of birch in Norway spruce plantations are being promoted as a means to increase habitat and species diversity. The implications of this mixture were analysed with regional survey data from southern Sweden. Permanent sample plots from the Swedish National Forest Inventory (NFI), with Norway spruce and admixture of birch, were used to describe the temporal trends in the admixture, regarding species composition and competitive strength. Observations from thinned plots show a higher harvest removal in birch (35%) than for Norway spruce (19%). Observations without thinnings in the period before measurement showed that individual birch tree growth was lower compared to Norway spruce and it decreased even more with increasing stand age and competition. In addition, a complementary field survey, with multiple distributed sample plots in each stand, was used to detect within-stand variation of species composition and density. Although within-stand heterogeneity was larger in mixed stands in terms of species composition, it was not different from Norway spruce monocultures in terms of stand density. These two surveys show that the admixture of birch, for several reasons, decreases over stand age and although birch increases tree species diversity, it does not necessary imply a change in density.


Mixed forest; national forest inventory; Betula; Picea; thinning; stand heterogeneity

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2021, Volume: 36, number: 2-3, pages: 155-163 Publisher: TAYLOR AND FRANCIS AS