GEOLINKS International Conference 2020, Book 2
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
INFLUENCE OF TREE SPECIES MIXTURE TO REDUCE WIND DAMAGES IN BIRCH STANDS
Baiba Jansone, Edgars Dubrovskis, Linards Sisenis
Climate change is linked to increase in frequency and/or severity of different damages in forest stands. Birch (Betula spp.) stands can be significantly affected by wind and snow (freezing rain). Aim of our study was to assess, if admixture of other tree species reduces the proportion of damaged trees in birch stands.
Data from total of 836 sample plots (size 500m2) in birch stands at the age of up to 81 year were analysed. Among the mixed sands (MS) and pure stands (PS >80% of single tree species), the mean proportion (± confidence interval) of damage was assessed from the total number (TN) and basal area (BA) of overstory (first layer) trees. MS were further assessed in two groups – one or more species in admixture (MS+1 and MS+2).
The proportion of mixed birch stands was increasing with age: from average of 21% at the age of up to 20 years to 64% at the age of 61-70 years, most likely do to difference in historical management. In period between the 1950th and 1990th, birch was considered as undesirable species and the older stands formed mainly due to low survival of coniferous trees and natural ingrowth of birch, whereas starting from the 1990th birch was more widely recognized and used as target species.
Proportion of undamaged birch trees (both, when assessed as TN or BA) was not significantly different between MS and PS. Also presence of second layer trees did not affect the proportion of damaged overstory trees significantly. There were significant differences among the groups of mixed stands: more wind or snow damaged trees were found in certain age groups in stands with more than one admixture species present.
Creating a mixed birch stands in comparison to pure stands of the same tree species may not result in lower frequency of damaged trees, thus this approach cannot be automatically recommended as a tool for adaptation to climate change