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On the Effect of Thinning on Tree Growth and Stand Structure of White Birch (<em>Betula platyphylla</em> Sukaczev) and Siberian Larch (<em>Larix sibirica</em> Ledeb.) in Mongolia

Gradel, Alexander, Ammer, Christian, Ganbaatar, Batsaikhan, Nadaldorj, Ochirrragchaa, Dovdondemberel, Batdorj, Wagner, Sven
Forests 2017 v.8 no.4
Betula pendula subsp. mandshurica, Larix sibirica, forest management, forest stands, forest steppe, forests, fuelwood, guidelines, stand structure, stems, tree growth, trees, Mongolia
The forests of North Mongolia are largely dominated either by larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb.) or birch (Betula platyphylla Sukaczev). The increasing demand for timber and firewood is currently met by removal of wood from these forest stands. Therefore, silvicultural approaches that account for both utilization and protection are needed. Thinning trials were established in the research area Altansumber, in the mountain forest steppe west of the town of Darkhan. We analyzed the response of non-spatial and spatial structure and growth of birch and larch stands on thinning. Before thinning, spatial tree distribution was largely clumped. Thinning promoted regular tree distribution. Ingrowth of new stems after thinning tended to redirect stand structure towards clumping. Both relative and absolute tree growth and competition were evaluated before, directly after, and three years after the thinning. Competition played a significant role in tree growth before thinning. A reduction in competition after thinning triggered significantly increased growth of both birch and larch. The observed positive growth response was valid in absolute and relative terms. A methodically based forest management strategy, including thinning operations and selective cuttings, could be established, even under the harsh Mongolian conditions. Our findings could initiate the development of broader forest management guidelines for the light-taiga dominated stands.