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Coarse Woody Debris Variability Due to Human Accessibility to Forest

Behjou, Farshad Keivan, Lo Monaco, Angela, Tavankar, Farzam, Venanzi, Rachele, Nikooy, Mehrdad, Mederski, Piotr S., Picchio, Rodolfo
Forests 2018 v.9 no.9
biodiversity, coarse woody debris, forest management, forest stands, fuelwood, hardwood forests, humans, snags, trees, Iran
Coarse woody debris (CWD) plays an important role in supporting biodiversity and assisting ecological processes. Sometimes local people intervene modifying the expected distribution of CWD components, harvested as fuel wood. The effect of the human accessibility (HA) on the volume and characteristics of CWD (snag, downed log and stump) was investigated in the natural uneven-age mixed hardwood stands of the Hyrcanian forests of Iran to quantify the impact on CWD. The HA was classified into three classes (easy, medium and difficult) on the basis of slope class, slope direction to the nearest road and road type. As expected, a negative relationship between the degree of accessibility was found with respect to the main qualitative and quantitative indices referring to CWD. The results showed that the volume of CWD decreased with an increase in human accessibility class (HAC), thus the mean volume of CWD in the difficult, medium and easy accessibility classes were 14.87 m3 ha−1, 8.84 m3 ha−1 and 4.03 m3 ha−1, respectively. The decrease in CWD volume was more associated with the decreasing volume of small diameter of low decayed downed logs. The ratio of snag volume to standing volume, the ratio of downed log volume to the volume of trees and the ratio of CWD volume to standing volume increased with a decrease in HAC, while the ratio of downed log volume to snag volume decreased with a decrease in HAC. No selective behaviour on the botanical species of CWD was recorded. For ecological forest management, the effect of HAC on CWD should be considered. A constant supply of snags and downed logs must be preserved to assure a high level of biodiversity. To balance social needs and biodiversity requirements, an increased level of CWD retention might be needed in areas with easy accessibility. The obtained results may be useful when ecological and socio-economical needs have to be taken into consideration in future policy-making decisions.