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Long-Term Susceptibility of Even- and Uneven-Aged Northern Hardwood Stands to Partial Windthrow

Nolet, Philippe, Béland, Martin
Forests 2017 v.8 no.4
developmental stages, equations, even-aged management, even-aged stands, forest stands, forest vegetation simulator, hardwood forests, probability, silviculture, sugars, tree and stand measurements, trees, uneven-aged management, uneven-aged stands, wind damage, wind speed, windthrow
While uneven-aged silviculture may appear preferable to even-aged silviculture in terms of stand susceptibility to windthrow (major wind damage), the scientific evidence is equivocal on this issue, because the two systems do not operate over the same time frame. The goal of this study was to evaluate the windthrow susceptibility of even- and uneven-aged stands over a 100-year period. Susceptibility to windthrow of North American hardwood stands was evaluated by coupling a stand growth model (Forest Vegetation Simulator, or FVS) to stem windthrow probability equations from the literature. This coupling was straightforward given that FVS provides the diameter at breast height (DBH) of each tree within a stand over the simulation period. Windthrow susceptibility equations also use DBH to calculate stem windthrow probability. Our results show that average loss due to windthrow under uneven-aged management can be twice that observed under even-aged management at moderate wind severity for sugar maple-dominated stands. This result should be interpreted with caution because of the impossibility in our simulations of considering differences in tree form development between the two approaches. Nevertheless, this study clearly shows that even-/uneven-aged silviculture comparisons should be made on a long-term basis since uneven-aged stands are continuously susceptible to windthrow, while even-aged stands tend to be little affected by windthrow in their early developmental stages.