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Variable retention in Tasmania, Australia: trends over 16 years of monitoring and adaptive management


Scott, RE and Neyland, MG and Baker, SC, Variable retention in Tasmania, Australia: trends over 16 years of monitoring and adaptive management, Ecological Processes, 8 Article 23. ISSN 2192-1709 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1186/s13717-019-0174-8


Background: Variable retention harvesting using aggregated retention (ARN) has been applied in some Tasmanian wet eucalypt forests for > 15 years. Implementation of ARN in Tasmania differs from most other regions, as forest influence (or the proximity of harvested areas to long-term retention) is primarily used to distinguish ARN from clearfelling rather than retention level, and broadcast burning is used as a regeneration treatment, resulting in a preference for edge aggregates instead of isolated retained islands. Clear emphasis on site-level retention of biological legacies and forest influence to facilitate re-establishment of mature forest species ensures that ARN coupes achieve the ecological objectives associated with retention forestry.

Results: Spatial and survey data collected from operational ARN coupes illustrates the development of this silvicultural practice over time and allows comparisons with conventional clearfelling. Over 90% of ARN coupes have met the forest influence target of > 50%. The number of ARN coupes harvested per year has varied, but mean retention levels (29%) and the mean area harvested per coupe (24 ha) have remained the same. Forest influence in ARN coupes has decreased over time, as have perimeter-to-area ratios, largely due to a decrease in the number of island aggregates. Although these measures of complexity have decreased, ARN coupes still have much greater forest influence, retention, and perimeter-to-area ratios when compared to conventional clearfell, burn and sow (CBS) coupes. The observed decrease in boundary complexity should facilitate regeneration burning in ARN coupes, although no increase in the proportion of burnt seedbed was observed. The proportion of burnt seedbed is strongly correlated with eucalypt seedling stocking and density in ARN coupes, and these attributes were all significantly lower in recent ARN coupes compared to clearfells. These differences appear to be due to achieving better burns in recent CBS coupes, rather than poorer ones in ARN coupes.

Conclusions: Although the area that can feasibly be harvested by ARN is limited by the requirement for regeneration burning, ARN provides clear biodiversity benefits and satisfactory silvicultural outcomes and is now firmly embedded as a viable alternative to clearfelling in Tasmanian wet eucalypt forests.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:retention forestry, silviculture systems, aggregated retention, regeneration burning, regeneration success, forest influence, Eucalyptus
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Forestry sciences
Research Field:Forestry management and environment
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Forestry
Objective Field:Native forests
UTAS Author:Neyland, MG (Dr Mark Neyland)
UTAS Author:Baker, SC (Associate Professor Sue Baker)
ID Code:133180
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2019-06-17
Last Modified:2019-10-29
Downloads:24 View Download Statistics

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