Impacts of salvage-logging on the status of deadwood after windthrow in Swiss forests

Priewasser, Kathrin ; Brang, Peter ; Bachofen, Hansheinrich ; Bugmann, Harald ; Wohlgemuth, Thomas

In: European Journal of Forest Research, 2013, vol. 132, no. 2, p. 231-240

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    Downed and standing deadwood (DW) is a key resource for maintaining forest biodiversity. Although extreme events such as windthrow and fires produce large quantities of DW, this substrate is often drastically reduced by logging activities. To elucidate the respecting consequences of salvage-logging, we assessed both quantity and quality of storm-derived DW (storms Vivian 1990 and Lothar 1999) in Swiss forests using a sample of 90 windthrow sites with ≥3ha complete windthrow and at elevations ranging from 350 to 1,800m a.s.l. The majority had been salvage-logged (SL) a few years after the windthrow. On each site, we recorded DW amount and quality on six circular sample plots 20 or 50m2 in size. DW volume on SL sites was surprisingly high, with 76.4m3 ha−1 on average 20years after Vivian and 73.8m3 ha−1 10years after Lothar. In comparison, DW volumes on unsalvaged sites, that is, with no post-windthrow intervention (NI), amounted to 270m3 ha−1. A wide variety of wood decay stages and diameter classes (10 to ≥70cm) was found on both NI and SL sites, suggesting considerable habitat diversity for DW-associated species irrespective of the treatment. The considerable amounts of DW left after salvage-logging distinctly exceed the minimum DW volumes in forest stands proposed by Müller and Bütler (Eur J For Res 129: 981-992, 2010) in a conservation context, which demonstrates the importance of wind disturbance for biodiversity. Further studies should quantify DW of individual tree species, since habitat requirements are species-specific