Canadian Forest Service Publications

Salvaging has minimal impacts on vegetation regeneration 10 years after severe windthrow. Taylor, A.R.; MacLean, D.A.; McPhee, D.; Dracup, E.; Keys, K. 2017. Forest Ecology and Management 406: 19–27.

Year: 2017

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39128

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.09.061

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Salvage harvesting is an important means of recovering wood fiber after disturbance, but remains controversial because it removes many unique biological legacies produced by natural disturbance. In this study, we assessed the effects of salvaging on the recovery of young forests approximately 10 years after severe windthrow in eastern Canada. Results showed that salvaging significantly reduced the abundance of residual overstorey trees from an average of 7.8 to 1.1 m2/ha and downed woody debris from 197 to 46 m3/ha, and altered forest soil attributes. However, we did not detect as clear an impact on regenerating vegetation. Although tree regeneration diversity was greater in salvaged stands (7.3 versus 5.6 species), the diversity and occurrence of all other nontree plant species did not significantly differ between treatments. Interestingly, mean tree seedling height was significantly higher in salvaged stands (1.5 versus 0.9 m), but saplings were taller in nonsalvaged stands (3.9 versus 3.2 m), largely due to the presence of advanced regeneration. Overall, salvaging had minimal effects on regenerating vegetation 10 years after windthrow and resulted in potential benefits, including increased mineralization of the forest floor, enhanced growth of seedlings, and improved access to conduct silviculture.

Plain Language Summary

This study investigates whether salvage harvesting following severe windthrow significantly affects the structure and function of early forest development compared with forest left to regenerate naturally, without salvaging. By comparing a sample of 11 salvaged and 11 non-salvaged 10-year-old stands in central Nova Scotia, this study found that salvaging had negligible effects on the composition and diversity of regenerating vegetation and physical and chemical properties of the soil relative to non-salvaged forest stands.