University of Oulu

Lauralotta Muurinen, Jari Oksanen, Ilkka Vanha-Majamaa, Risto Virtanen, Legacy effects of logging on boreal forest understorey vegetation communities in decadal time scales in northern Finland, Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 436, 2019, Pages 11-20, ISSN 0378-1127,

Legacy effects of logging on boreal forest understorey vegetation communities in decadal time scales in northern Finland

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Author: Muurinen, Lauralotta1; Oksanen, Jari1; Vanha-Majamaa, Ilkka2;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Pentti Kaiteran katu 1, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Latokartanonkaari 9, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
3Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department of Physiological Diversity, Permoserstraße 15, Leipzig 04318, Germany
4German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04013 Leipzig, Germany
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 15.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2019
Publish Date: 2021-01-12


We followed how forest thinning, repeated twice during a period of 93 years, altered understorey plant community composition, affected the succession of forest understorey vegetation and the accumulation of logs in the long-term. The study was carried out in northern Finland by resampling 20 permanent experimental plots, established after a wildfire in 1920. Understorey vegetation was inventoried in 1961, 1986 and 2013 with forest thinning treatments done in 1953 and 1987, using four and three different harvesting intensities, respectively. We found succession to override the effects of forest logging until the latest study period (2013). We observed negligible long-term effects of logging on understorey communities during the two mid-successional stages (1961, 1986), when the forest was 41 and 66 years old respectively. The impacts of logging on understorey vegetation were strongest in the latest successional stage (2013), the forest being at the age of 93 years. In the latest successional stage (2013) logged plots had less coarse woody debris than unlogged plots. Forest management thus influenced the key feature for forest biodiversity and potential habitats for endangered species. These findings are of major interest since the studies of long-term impacts of less intensive forest management practices are scarce. Our results suggest that in addition to possible immediate impacts, harvesting treatments have legacy effects (subtle or delayed inherited effects of forestry in the past) that influence the forest understorey vegetation community composition and the amount of coarse woody debris. This finding deserves special attention when planning of species conservation, multiple use of forests and sustainable forestry.

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Series: Forest ecology and management
ISSN: 0378-1127
ISSN-E: 1872-7042
ISSN-L: 0378-1127
Volume: 436
Pages: 11 - 20
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2018.12.048
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Fieldwork was supported by Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica and Oulun Luonnonystäväin Yhdistys and finalization of the manuscript was supported by Olvi Foundation and Finnish Cultural Foundation. Academy of Finland (project # 259072) funded the aerial photographs by the National Land Survey of Finland.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 259072
Detailed Information: 259072 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license