Publication details

Experimental restoration of coppice-with-standards: Response of understorey vegetation from the conservation perspective



Year of publication 2013
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Forest Ecology and Management
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Ecology
Keywords Restoration experiment; Endangered species; Species diversity; Thinning; Traditional woodland management; Woodland conservation
Description A substantial part of European lowland woodlands was managed as coppices or wood pastures for millennia. However, traditional management forms were almost completely abandoned in Central Europe by the middle of the 20th century. Combined with the effects of nitrogen deposition and herbivore pressure, shifts in management resulted in biodiversity loss affecting particularly light-demanding oligotrophic plant species. Experimental thinning was applied in a former oak coppice-with-standards in an attempt to restore vanishing understorey plant communities. Two levels of thinning intensity and zero management as control were used on 90 plots. Ten years after the treatment, significant changes in species composition and diversity were observed in heavily thinned plots, while moderate thinning had mostly insignificant effects. Light-demanding oligotrophic species significantly increased, indicating positive consequences of restoration. However, heavy thinning also brought about the expansion of native ruderal species. Alien species remained unchanged. We conclude that the restoration of coppice-with-standards can be an efficient tool to support vanishing light-demanding woodland species. Combined with biodiversity benefits, the increasing demand for biofuel may contribute to the renaissance of traditional management forms in forestry.

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