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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Varying rotation lengths in northern production forests: Implications for habitats provided by retention and production trees

Felton, Adam; Sonesson, Johan; Nilsson, Urban; Lamas, Tomas; Lundmark, Tomas; Nordin, Annika; Ranius, Thomas; Roberge, Jean-Michel


Because of the limited spatial extent and comprehensiveness of protected areas, an increasing emphasis is being placed on conserving habitats which promote biodiversity within production forest. For this reason, alternative silvicultural programs need to be evaluated with respect to their implications for forest biodiversity, especially if these programs are likely to be adopted. Here we simulated the effect of varied rotation length and associated thinning regimes on habitat availability in Scots pine and Norway spruce production forests, with high and low productivity. Shorter rotation lengths reduced the contribution made by production trees (trees grown for industrial use) to the availability of key habitat features, while concurrently increasing the contribution from retention trees. The contribution of production trees to habitat features was larger for high productivity sites, than for low productivity sites. We conclude that shortened rotation lengths result in losses of the availability of habitat features that are key for biodiversity conservation and that increased retention practices may only partially compensate for this. Ensuring that conservation efforts better reflect the inherent variation in stand rotation lengths would help improve the maintenance of key forest habitats in production forests.


Dead wood; Large trees; Rotation length; Thinning; Tree retention

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2017, Volume: 46, number: 3, pages: 324-334