Logging damage to residual trees during sustainable harvesting of uneven-age stands in the Hyrcanian forests of Iran

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Afraz Iranparast Bodaghi
Mehrdad Nikooy
Ramin Naghdi
Farzam Tavankar


cable skidder, logging damage, salvage logging, selection cutting, uneven-aged forest


Background: The frequency of wounded trees and intensity of wounds during logging operations can have serious impacts on stand growth and forest sustainability. The aims of the study were to evaluate and compare stand (tree and regeneration) damage level, wound characteristics, and damage types occurring when using a cable skidder in salvage logging and selection cutting.

Methods: This study was conducted on four sites of mixed uneven-aged hardwood stands in the Hyrcanian forests of Iran. At two sites, salvage logging was applied (SL1 and SL2), and low-intensity selection cutting (SC1 and SC2) was applied at the other two. A systematic plot sampling design was used on the study area for damage assessment.

Results: The percentage of regenerating trees damaged was 2.8, 2.1, 4.3, 1.4 %, in SL1, SL2, SC1, and SC2, respectively. The corresponding percentage of damaged trees was 4.3, 3.7, 4.9, 1.7 %. Most of the damage (48–79%) to the stand occurred during the winching stage at all the sites. Most of the wounds were located on the bole (51–78%). The average wound height and wound size at selection cutting sites were significantly higher than at the salvage logging sites. The incidence of high-intensity wounds at the salvage logging sites (55% at SL1 and 57% at SL2) was higher than at the selection cutting sites (24% in SC1 and 30% in SC2). Regenerating beech (Fagus orienalis Lipsky) and alder (Alnus subcordata C.A.Mey) had the highest incidence of damage. The number of damaged trees increased with increasing winching distance.

Conclusion: Damage levels in stands during salvage logging and low-intensity selection cutting are lower (about a quarter) than the damage level to residual trees (12–23%) and regeneration (5–11%) from conventional selection cutting in uneven-aged mixed hardwood stands in the Hyrcanian forests. Because of the ecological and conservation value of deadwood, if the incidence of wind-fallen trees is low, the wood should be left in forest stands due to the high cost of salvage logging and the damage caused to residual and regenerating trees.

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