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Management of vegetation under electric distribution lines will affect the supply of multiple ecosystem services

Dupras, Jérôme, Patry, Cynthia, Tittler, Rebecca, Gonzalez, Andrew, Alam, Mahbubul, Messier, Christian
Land use policy 2016 v.51 pp. 66-75
clearcutting, ecosystem services, electric power, expert opinion, field experimentation, forests, logging, prediction, pruning, rural areas, slash, surveys, trees, urban areas, wood, woodlands
In this study, we estimated the impact of different management strategies on the ecosystem services provided by the vegetation under electric power lines in urban and rural areas. Two management scenarios were evaluated in urban areas: (a) complete removal of trees that interfere with power lines, and (b) pruning of these trees. Four management scenarios were evaluated in rural areas, where power lines cut through wood lots and forests: (1) clear-cutting with whole-tree removal, (2) clear-cutting with slash left on site, (3) selective logging with slash left on site, and (4) tree pruning only. Because it was not feasible to carry out field experiments to examine the effects of all of these management scenarios on fourteen ecosystem services, we used the Delphi method to solicit expert opinion and address testable predictions and preliminary management recommendations. According to this expert survey, pruning is expected to have little or no effect on a range of services provided by trees, woodlands and forests either in rural or urban areas. On the other hand, all other scenarios are expected to have similar effects on at least half the services evaluated. Based on these results, we recommend that pruning be prioritized over other management practices as much as possible in urban and rural settings.