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Research article2024Peer reviewed

How do different thinning methods influence spatial tree diversity in mixed forest stands of planted Norway spruce (Picea abies L.) and naturally regenerated birch (Betula spp.) in southern Sweden?

Becs, Artis; Bergström, Dan; Egnell, Gustaf; Pommerening, Arne


Forest biomass has become a viable alternative energy source for replacing fossil fuels, particularly after the European Union acknowledged its sustainability status. To reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 in Sweden, new efficient methods of biomass extraction, such as geometrical biomass thinnings, are being explored and tested. These machine-based methods involve the extraction of above-ground biomass in narrow, 1-2 m-wide strips between extraction racks. While evidence-based optimization of biomass extraction mostly focuses on time- and cost-efficiency and on stand growth, criteria such as tree diversity are often overlooked. However, with ongoing climate change, tree diversity is crucial to strengthening the resilience and productivity of future forests, which also enhance the provision of ecosystem services and overall biological diversity. Therefore, we studied the effects of different biomass thinning strategies on spatial tree diversity in southern Sweden using nearest-neighbour summary statistics. We found scientific evidence that different geometrical designs of biomass thinning, especially in 1 or 2 m-wide strips, resulted in higher spatial tree diversity compared to conventional biomass thinning. Hence, in mixed conifer-broadleaved forests, biomass thinning in 1 or 2 m-wide strips is recommended for maintaining spatial tree diversity.


biomass; geometrical thinning; boom-corridor; species mingling; spatial tree diversity

Published in

Canadian Journal of Forest Research