Changes in the society have created a need for a systematic approach in forestry combining forest management, timber harvest analysis, research and demonstration of new technologies. A research and demonstration area is an option for explaining and visualising frameworks of forest design, modelling and planning in the real nature. A research and demonstration area of forest management planning can be defined as a forested landscape that combines various forest uses and aims to ensure and explain forest management strategies as well as conservation of ecosystems and natural resources. A suitable area for creating the research and demonstration area of forest management planning is at Järvselja Training and Experimental Forest Centre in Estonia. It has naturally diverse forests and these include also habitats of several rare and endangered species and already comprise different sets of nature conservation areas. The centre has been used for forestry higher education and research for over 90 years and therefore all essential infrastructure has been developed including dormitories and lecture rooms for field training as well as different nature paths, old field experiments (e.g. initial spacing and thinning experiments) and new modern research facilities. Forest management plans and inventory data since 1922 still exist for the area. The area at Järvselja is expected to demonstrate present studies and research work in the most comprehensive way as well as the implications to forest management and the newest technologies in forest management and planning. Different systems and techniques of forest management can be studied and demonstrated to the wider public by establishing the research and demonstration area of forest management planning at Järvselja.
Growth assessment of young stands gives the possibility of assessing forest site potential, tree species-dependent competition and developing realistic predictions for the following periods. The study is conducted in naturally regenerated broadleaves dominated stands in 2005 at Järvselja Training and Experimental Forest Center. The current study material is collected from 9 study plots established in three forest stands (regeneration felling years respectively 1996, 2000 and 2002). The study plots were re-measured 4–6 times respectively between the years of 2006 and 2012. The Weibull distribution function fit for empirical height distributions in consecutive years was tested and the estimated Weibull parameters were analysed. Results indicate that empirical height distributions of young regenerated forests do not fit well to theoretical distributions, but in many cases, empirical and theoretical distribution are similar. The Weibull distribution shape parameter was related to the maximum height and range of the height, and the scale parameter was related to the mean, quadratic mean and median height.
With the rapid development in data acquisition and presentation, there is a growing interest in virtual forests and computer visualization tools. Forest owners have become more aware about their property and are interested in applying different forest management methods and silvicultural techniques. The tools are also applicable in assessment of the changes to the landscape as a result of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Virtual reality offers a good opportunity to test and compare different management options before implementing decisions which can lead to irreversible consequences. Advances in spatial and temporal data collection enable new and practical solutions for analysis and visualization of long-term natural processes with new forestry applications. In the near future, forest owners and managers will have the possibility to make management decisions without the direct need to exit the office. Furthermore, the learning process is more enthralling and also more profound through augmented reality, helping to foster better working practices even before starting a job in the forest sector.
The properties of biomass-based fuel and combustion tests showed that logging residues are promising renewable energy sources. The data used in this study were collected from four clear-felling areas in Järvselja Training and Experimental Forest Centre, Southeast Estonia in 2013–2014. Logging was carried out by harvesters in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.), silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) and black alder (Alnus glutinosa L. Gaertn.) dominated stands with a small admixture of other tree species according to the cut-to-length method and logging residues were placed in heaps. The aim of this research is to assess different characteristics of logging residues (quantity, moisture content, energetic potential, ash content and amount) in clear-felling areas. The highest load of slash was measured on the birch dominated study site, where the dry weight of the logging residues was 29 t ha−1. Only the branch fraction moisture content on the black alder dominated site (35.4%) was clearly different from respective values on other sites (21.6–25.4%). The highest calorific value of the residues was assessed with the residues from the birch dominated site, where in moist sample it was 365 GJ ha−1 and in dry matter 585 GJ ha−1. The heating value of the fresh residues is highest in coniferous trees. The highest ash content in branch segments was registered for the black alder dominated site. Järvselja data indicate higher quality in conifer dominated sites, yet a higher load of logging residues in broadleaf dominated stands.
A new paradigm in forest management using a streaming input of public participation needs effective online solutions. The process should be real-time, secure, effective and efficient. People are expected to share their data and thoughts on forest management with forest owners for improving forest management and planning. The participatory approach supports communication within society and can be designed as an interactive web-based solution. Many pre-requisites have already been met and society is ready for a successful start of an interactive participatory forest planning system in Estonia. People use digital identification for various purposes and the state already maintains an online public forest register. Motivating people to participate in the planning process is always challenging yet important for the successful implementation of the system. The system should allow simulating the development and management of forest stands following the participatory input and using ecosystem models and economic calculations. The outputs from the system include management alternatives, risk assessments and financial reports. The system requires a reliable financial compensation scheme to ensure overall long-term stability of the system and agreements between interested persons or groups and forest owners.
Diverse structural elements play an important role in sustaining biodiversity in old-growth forests. Therefore, it is important to have thorough knowledge about these habitats and their condition in protected areas. Metsakorralduse Büroo OÜ conducted a large-scale Natura 2000 forest habitat inventory that covered 60% of Lahemaa National Park (LNP) area. Western taiga habitat data (7,191 ha) from this inventory was used for analysis of forest stages. The data was grouped according to stand classes by total area and these classes were compared by deadwood occurrence and relative density. For more precise evaluation of coarse woody debris (CWD) we used 27 sample plots from the Estonian Network of Forest Research Plots (ENFRP) located in LNP. The biggest areas of Western taiga habitat were covered by mature and old stages. CWD occurrence (over 5 m3ha−1 of snags and logs) by habitat representativeness is higher in old and natural forest classes. This logical result is overshadowed by the outcome that the CWD was not substantially present on 32% of the area in the old-growth forest class. This indicates that these areas lack the potential of biological legacies to provide critical niche habitats for different species. The study shows that the CWD quantity in Estonian conditions is similar to that reported in previous studies in this region, but because many of the older forest stage classes do not have any CWD present, these areas should include ecological restoration practices in their conservation planning. By creating snags, logs and gaps in these areas, we are able to create better structural variability and include wood into different decay processes.
Forest research has long traditions in Estonia that can be traced back to the 19th century. Data from long-term forest experiments are available since 1921. The first studies mainly focused on silvicultural treatments and application of such data for understanding and modeling ecological processes was limited. The Department of Forest Management of the Estonian University of Life Sciences started to develop the Estonian Network of Forest Research Plots (ENFRP) in 1995. Since then, plots have been continuously re-measured with 5-year interval. Approximately 100-150 permanent sample plots were measured annually. In 2014, the long-term research network consisted of 729 permanent sample plots, of which 699 have been re-measured at least once, 667 plots - twice and 367 plots - three times. The total number of trees recorded in the network database amounts to 130,479. The plots are systematically distributed throughout the country. Detailed dendrometric measurements including tree spatial distribution are part of the survey protocol. Initially the network was set up to produce suitable data for development of individual tree growth models for Estonia. The significance of the network for the Estonian forest research is continuously increasing and nowadays ENFRP is recognized as an important national research infrastructure.
Establishment of the SMEAR Estonia at a hemiboreal mixed deciduous broad-leaved-evergreen needle-leaved forest at Järvselja, South-Eastern Estonia, has strongly enhanced the possibilities for national and international cooperation in the fields of forest ecosystem – atmosphere research and impacts of climatic changes on forest ecosystems, atmospheric trace gases, aerosols and air ions. The station provides a multitude of comprehensive continuously measured data covering key climatic and atmospheric characteristics (state and dynamics of solar radiation, trace gases, aerosols and air ions, meteorological parameters) and forest ecosystem traits (net primary productivity, individual tree growth, gas-exchange characteristics, soil variables). The station follows a multidisciplinary and multiscale approach covering processes in spatial dimensions ranging from nanometres to several hundred square kilometres, being thus able to significantly contribute to worldwide measurement networks and the SMEAR network. Here we present an overview of the station, its data produced and we envision future developments towards sustainable research and development of the large-scale scientific infrastructure SMEAR Estonia.