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Research article2015Peer reviewedOpen access

Tree retention practices in boreal forests: what kind of future landscapes are we creating?

Lämås, Tomas; Sandström, Emma; Jonzén, Jonas; Olsson, Håkan; Gustafsson, Lena


Tree retention practices promoting biodiversity may reshape future boreal forest production landscapes. Using the Heureka system, scenarios of 0%, 5%, and 20% retained patches at the stand level were projected over 200 years in a 533 ha boreal landscape. Visualizations of future forest states at a landscape scale and a more detailed scale were made based on the projections. The no retention results in no forest >120 years old, and no large trees (diameter at breast height >40 cm for conifers and >35 cm for broadleaved trees) 100 years from now. With retention levels of 5% and 20%, the area of old forest will comprise 7% and 19% of the total area, respectively. The average number of large trees per ha will be 4 and 13, respectively. Deadwood volumes will be 2.5 times higher at 5% retention and 4 times higher at 20% retention compared to no retention. Landscape visualizations indicate that retention patches covering 5% will marginally modify the visual impression, compared to clear-cuts, while 20% cover will create a much more varied landscape. We conclude that the retention approach is essential for restoring natural conditions. Landscape transformation will be slow and depend on starting conditions and retention levels.


aesthetic values; biodiversity; deadwood; forest management planning; Heureka; tree retention; visualization

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2015, Volume: 30, number: 6, pages: 526-537