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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Birch distribution and changes in stand structure in Sweden's young forests

Lidman, Felicia Dahlgren; Lundmark, Tomas; Sangstuvall, Lars; Holmstrom, Emma


Silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) and downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) are the two most common broadleaf species in Sweden, together making up approximately 12% of the standing timber volume. The two birch species are usually not distinguished in practice, although they tend to differ in terms of volume production, timber quality, and site preferences. To map the proportion of the two birch species in Sweden's young forests, we used survey data from 123 stands 6-7 years after clearfelling, and data from Sweden's meteorological and hydrological institute. We also examined Sweden's young forests in terms of area, volume, and stem density between 1983 and 2021, using national forest inventory data. Proportions of the two birch species varied significantly across Sweden, and the average temperature sum over the first five years after clearfelling explained 72% of the variation. There was no significant change in area of forest classified as young forest in Sweden, over the last four decades, although there was a significant increase in volume and stem density in Sweden's young forests, with birch making up most of the increase in stem numbers.


Betula pendula; Betula pubescens; silver birch; downy birch; dispersal; natural regeneration; Swedish NFI

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research