Stand and coarse woody debris dynamics in subalpine Norway spruce forests withdrawn from regular management*
University of Turin, Dep. Agroselviter, Via Leonardo da Vinci
44, 10095 Grugliasco (TO) Italy
2 University of Padua, Italy
3 University of Pavia, Italy
∗∗ Corresponding author:
Accepted: 1 May 2010
• We studied structural characteristics, amount and quality of coarse woody debris (CWD), intensity of competition and mortality in two subalpine Norway spruce stands withdrawn from regular management. The stands, that we measured twice (in 1993 and 2005), have similar age and structure, but a different time has elapsed since the last silvicultural treatments (respectively 22 and about 55 y).
• The main purposes were to analyze the current stage of development as compared to the old-growth one and to highlight the legacies of past management.
• Although relatively old, the first plot (Valbona 1) was at the end of the pole stage. CWD was low in volume and was mainly of man-made origin (stumps). A recent thinning from below has reduced density-dependent competition and delayed the development of old-growth characteristics. The second plot (Valbona 2a) was at the beginning of the transition stage, with density-dependent and allogenic mortality both active at the same time. CWD volume was higher in plot Valbona 2a than in Valbona 1, but neither was comparable yet to the reference old-growth sites from Central Europe, both in quantity and in quality (e.g., decay rate continuity).
• The effects of the past management were: (1) reducing the quality and quantity of the CWD, (2) alleviating competition, (3) increasing resistance to minor disturbances and, as a consequence, (4) delaying the development processes.
• In mature or overmature subalpine Norway spruce stands withdrawn from regular management many decades are necessary to develop old-growth characteristics and a longer period of time is necessary to reach a true old-growth stage.
Key words: competition / coarse woody debris (CWD) / stand density index (SDI) / age structure / old-growth
© INRA, EDP Sciences, 2010