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Exploratory analysis of structural diversity indicators at stand level in three Italian beech sites and implications for sustainable forest management

Bertini, Giada, Becagli, Claudia, Chiavetta, Ugo, Ferretti, Fabrizio, Fabbio, Gianfranco, Salvati, Luca
Journal of forestry research 2019 v.30 no.1 pp. 121-127
Fagus, factor analysis, forests, silvicultural practices, stand structure, sustainable forestry, trees, Italy
The present study introduces an exploratory data analysis based on structural indicators with the aim to assess the effect of silvicultural practices on tree stand structure. The study was carried out in three Italian beech forests of different ages with stand structures that originated from dissimilar regeneration and cultivation techniques (Cansiglio, northern Italy, Chiarano, central Italy, and Mongiana, southern Italy). Ten structural indicators were considered when investigating the latent multivariate relationship between stand structure attributes before and after thinning operations by using a multiway factor analysis (MFA). The MFA results identified the older stand at Cansiglio as more homogeneous for cultivation regimes, and more stable to practices when compared with the younger sites (Chiarano and Mongiana). Heterogeneous stands were sensitive to silvicultural practice thus suggesting their possible impact on forest attributes. The proposed approach proved to be an operational tool to evaluate comprehensively the response of forest structure to planned interventions.