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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2005

Functionality of riparian forest ecotones in the context of former Soviet Union and Swedish forest management histories

Lazdinis M, Angelstam P


Forest management in Central and Eastern Europe, under direct or indirect Soviet influence, for a long time followed different management objectives and strategies as compared to the forest management in countries with market economies in Western Europe located in the same biogeographic zones. In the light of the appearing paradigms of natural disturbance regimes and ecosystem-based forest management we evaluate forest management in the former Soviet Union and Sweden with respect to conservation of riparian forest ecotones. We studied the site and forest age class distribution both along watercourses and at randomly selected locations in the surrounding terrain in managed landscapes in Sweden and the former Soviet Union, respectively. Along watercourses in the former Soviet Union 20% of the overall forest cover was classified as old-growth compared with 6% in the surrounding landscape. By contrast, although the proportion of site type distribution was similar, such forests were neither found along watercourses nor in the surrounding landscape in Sweden. The results hence show that the Soviet management policy resulted in better conditions from the biodiversity conservation perspective. We conclude that the forestry decision-making environment does matter for practical forest conservation. We also make the following recommendations to forest and environmental planners and decision-makers: (1) protect existing and restore and re-create riparian corridors in general; (2) maintain riparian forests along streams of all orders, because small rivers are as important for conservation of biodiversity as large rivers; (3) designate riparian corridors for protection not focusing on a single width, but rather based on vegetation site type appropriate for stand types with a continuous forest cover. (c) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Published in

Forest Policy and Economics
2005, Volume: 7, number: 3, pages: 321-332

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    Forest Science
    Economics and Business
    Social Sciences

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