How much birch (Betula papyrifera) is too much for maximizing spruce (Picea glauca) growth: a case study in boreal spruce plantation forests

https://doi.org/10.17221/8/2012-JFSCitation:Hawkins C.D.B., Dhar A., Rogers B.J. (2012): How much birch (Betula papyrifera) is too much for maximizing spruce (Picea glauca) growth: a case study in boreal spruce plantation forests. J. For. Sci., 58: 314-327.
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Interest in conifer-broadleaf mixedwood forests has greatly increased due to continuous demand for hardwood products and a shift towards more biological or ecosystem-based management. In British Columbia, more than 30% of the productive forest land is a conifer–broadleaf mixture and current forest regulations are more conifer biased rather than maintaining a mixed-species condition. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of paper birch on white spruce growth. Spruce growth data from 10 to 18 years old complex stands indicate that radial, height, and stem volume was not impacted by retaining up to 3,000 stems·ha–1 of birch. Similarly, growth and yield model projections suggest spruce-birch stands would be more productive up to a threshold birch density (3,000 stems·ha–1) than pure spruce stands. At a 4% real interest rate, the removal of birch from these stands does not appear to be warranted as an investment. The results suggest that instead of encouraging uniform broadleaf removal across conifer plantations, mixed species management strategies could enhance the forest productivity, stand diversity and resilience.  
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