Mark C. Vanderwel, Hilary C. Thorpe, and John P. Caspersen
Harvest slash can represent a major source of downed woody debris (DWD) in selection-managed forests. In this study, we analyze the volume, cover, size distribution, and decay-class distribution of DWD input by selection harvesting in central Ontario, Canada. Selection harvesting input 23.9 m3 DWD ha–1 (0.013 m2 DWD m–2), with cut basal area explaining 46% and 30% of the respective within-stand variation in cover and volume, respectively. The size distribution of the slash was similar to that of DWD in permanent sample plots (including old-growth stands and stands that have not been recently harvested), countering a common assumption that harvesting inputs only small-sized material. Harvest-origin DWD was bimodally distributed across decay classes, with the first peak (decay class 1) associated with fresh harvest slash and a second smaller peak (decay class 3) likely representing dead trees and branches that were felled or broken during harvest operations. A matrix projection model showed that slash can maintain DWD levels in managed, uneven-aged stands comparable with those in unmanaged stands, but the mean decay class increases steadily over a 20-year period after harvest. Our results underline the importance of harvest inputs for maintaining DWD pools in selection-managed forests and provide baseline information against which to compare forests managed with higher utilization standards.
In Canadian Journal of Forest Research