Constraints to partial cutting in the boreal forest of Canada in the context of natural disturbance-based management: a review.
Arun Bose, Brian Harvey, Suzanne Brais, Marilou Beaudet, Alain Leduc.
Over the last 25 years, greater understanding of natural dynamics in the boreal forest has led to the integration of forest ecosystem management principles into forest policy of several Canadian provinces and, in turn, to greater interest in developing silvicultural treatments that are grounded in natural stand-level dynamics – often referred to as natural disturbance-based silviculture. As a result, alternative silvicultural practices including variants of partial cutting are increasingly being applied in the boreal forest as an approach to balancing economic and ecological management objectives. While the numerous benefits of partial cutting reported in the literature are acknowledged, the objective of this paper is to provide an overview of factors or constraints that potentially limit the application of these practices in boreal Canada in the context of forest ecosystem management and natural disturbance-based silviculture. Among constraining factors, numerous studies have reported elevated mortality rates of residual stems following partial cutting, initial growth stagnation of residual trees, problems related to recruitment of desirable species and, on certain flat or lowland sites, risks of long-term decline in site and stand productivity. A number of operational challenges to partial cutting in the boreal forest are also presented and several avenues of research are proposed.