Radial Growth Response of Black Spruce Stands Ten Years after Experimental Shelterwoods and Seed-Tree Cuttings in Boreal Forest.
Miguel Montoro Girona, Hubert Morin, Jean-Martin Lussier, Denis Walsh.
Partial cutting is thought to be an alternative to achieve sustainable management in boreal forests. However, the effects of intermediate harvest intensity (45%–80%) on growth remain unknown in black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) stands, one of the most widely distributed boreal species with great commercial interest. In this study, we analysed the effect of three experimental shelterwood and one seed-tree treatments on tree radial growth in even-aged black spruce stands, 10 years after intervention. Our results show that radial growth response 8–10 years after cutting was 41% to 62% higher than in untreated plots, with stand structure, treatment, tree position relative to skidding trails, growth before cutting and time having significant interactions. The stand structure conditioned tree growth after cutting, being doubled in younger and denser stands. Tree spatial position had a pronounced effect on radial growth; trees at the edge of the skidding trails showed twice the increase in growth compared to interior trees. Dominant trees before cutting located close to the skidding trails manifested the highest growth response after cutting. This research suggests that the studied treatments are effective to enhance radial wood production of black spruce especially in younger stands, and that the edge effect must be considered in silvicultural management planning.