Adaption of Norway spruce and European beech forests under climate change: from resistance to close-to-nature silviculture

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In time of climate change, close-to-nature silviculture is growing in importance as a tool for future forest management. The paper study the tree layer and natural regeneration of monospecific Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.), trough mixed spruce-beech to dominant European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests in Jizerské hory Mts., the Czech Republic. In the locality, shelterwood and selection system have been applied since 2000. The research objectives were to evaluate production parameters, structural diversity, species richness, natural regeneration dynamics and radial growth of individual tree species in relation to climatic factors and air pollution. The stand volume on permanent research plots amounted to 441 – 731 m3 ha−1 in initial stage of transformation. Natural regeneration showed high expansion of beech and decrease of spruce compared to mature tree species composition. Radial growth of spruce was in significant negative correlation with SO2 and NOX concentrations compared to no effect on beech increment. Moreover, spruce was more sensitive to significant years with extreme low radial growth. Beech was more stable in radial growth. Spruce was more resistant to air pollution and climatic stress in mixed stands. Low temperature was limiting factor of radial growth together with climate extremes (such as strong frosts and more frequent droughts) and biotic factors (bark beetle, beech scale). Close-to-nature management supporting admixed tree species should lead in future to diversification of stand structure toward higher species, spatial and age structure to mitigate negative effect of climatic change.

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