An examination of stocking and early growth in the Warra silvicultural systems trial confirms the importance of a burnt seedbed for vigorous regeneration of
Eucalyptus obliqua forest
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Neyland, M and Hickey, J and Beadle, CL and Bauhus, J and Davidson, NJ and Edwards, L, An examination of stocking and early growth in the Warra silvicultural systems trial confirms the importance of a burnt seedbed for vigorous regeneration of
Eucalyptus obliqua forest, Forest Ecology and Management, 258, (4) pp. 481-494. ISSN 0378-1127 (2009) [Refereed Article]
Clearfelling of wet eucalypt forest followed by high intensity burning and aerial sowing, a silvicultural system designed to mimic the natural dynamic of sporadic regeneration following cataclysmic disturbance, has attracted criticism for not maintaining the structural diversity that is associated with natural disturbance. A silvicultural systems trial was established at the Warra Long-Term Ecological Research site in southern Tasmania to explore alternatives to clearfelling in tall wet eucalypt forest. Stocking, density and growth of the seedling regeneration were monitored for up to 3 years after harvesting and regeneration treatments were applied from 1998 to 2007. The treatments were clearfell with understorey islands, a patchfell, stripfell, dispersed retention, aggregated retention, and single-tree/small-group selection. High intensity burning, low intensity burning and no burning were variously applied as part of these treatments. The nature of the seedbed in each coupe was related to the harvesting and regeneration treatment. Where high intensity burns were applied there was a higher proportion of burnt seedbed available than in coupes where low intensity burns were applied. The highest seedling densities and fastest early seedling growth rates occurred on the hottest burnt seedbeds. The lowest seedling densities occurred on unburnt and undisturbed seedbeds and the slowest early growth rates occurred on unburnt and compacted seedbeds. Treatments that created the most burnt seedbed had the highest seedling densities and the fastest seedling growth. Aggregated retention is considered the most promising alternative to clearfelling. Because high intensity burns as applied to clearfell burn and sow coupes cannot be conducted in aggregated retention coupes as they would probably burn the aggregates, the lower proportion of burnt seedbed will, on average, result in lower seedling density and growth, and may compromise longer term productivity compared to clearfelled and high intensity-burnt coupes. If aggregated retention is to be successfully applied, as measured by the density and height growth of the regeneration, finding ways of successfully and consistently burning such coupes post-harvesting will be essential. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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