The alteration of natural tree species composition is defined as the deviation of the current tree species composition from that of the natural state. It can be used as a measure of human influence on forest vegetation, and thus as an indicator of the naturalness of forest vegetation. The aim of the study was to develop a standard procedure for estimating the alteration of natural tree species composition, to explain factors driving alteration and to examine its significance for susceptibility of forest stands to natural disturbances. The alteration of natural tree species composition was estimated for the Dinaric region (5556 km2, Slovenia) by the Robič Index of Dissimilarity (RID), ranging from 0 (completely natural) to 100 (completely altered). The index was calculated on the compartment level (24 ha each on average) with data on current and potential natural forest vegetation. The influence of human activities on tree species alteration was examined by using topographic and accessibility variables. The susceptibility of forest stands to natural disturbances was analysed with data on sanitary felling. In the study area, the natural tree species composition of forest stands is moderately preserved; the average value of RID was 50.05, ranging from 1.76 to 100, and the coefficient of variation was 0.49. The alteration of the natural tree species composition of forest stands is primarily the result of forest management and past land use, conditioned either by topography or accessibility of forests. The degree of alteration of tree species composition decreased along the gradients of rockiness, inclination and elevation. A greater degree of alteration appeared on the slopes of intermediate and south facing aspects than on north facing slopes, and in areas that were closer to the forest edge. A higher level of alteration significantly increases the susceptibility of forest stands to natural disturbances. The procedure represents a novel approach in modelling the alteration (naturalness) of tree species composition of forest vegetation. It is applicable at different spatial scales and fosters an understanding of the patterns of tree species composition under the influence of human activity across forest landscapes.
The concept of forest functions evolved in Central Europe as an important tool in the practice of multi-objective forest management. It is based on designating forest function areas that are relatively more important for the selected services. Recent practice has raised a number of concerns regarding the suitability and effectiveness of the concept of forest functions in satisfying increasing social demands on forests. This paper presents the main results of a survey of forest functions in Slovenia as seen by forestry experts (n=162). There was broad agreement among respondents that there are too many forest function types, and that at most two levels of importance should be applied. Principal component analysis identified four main purposes for designating forest function areas: harmonisation of forest uses, identification of conflict areas, and argumentation for land use planning; setting management priorities and strategies such as limitations for harvesting and skidding; providing a framework for financial subsidies for adjusted forest management; guiding forest road planning and construction. Respondents identified designation of forest function areas in both public and private forests, and their high importance for land use planning as the major strengths of the concept. Major weaknesses were an insufficient monitoring and planning system, and complicated forest function mapping. It seems that forest functions have remained an important tool in the practice of multi-objective forest management. However, improved planning methods, increased public participation and greater integration of forest functions in forest policy are needed.
Forest inventorying and reporting at the national level have been known for about one hundred years. For more than fifty years, forestry has also been part of international reporting. The Slovenian forestry industry presently drafts two types of annual forest reports. Additionally, it participates in creating international reports on forest health and greenhouse emissions and in preparing occasional reports on forest resources, carried out within the UN/FAO and the process of Forest Europe. This research aimed to assess the differences between the Slovene forest reporting and the reporting of selected countries, with the support of content analysis. The comparison was carried out with the use of the pan-European indicators of sustainable forest management. In addition to the Slovene reports, the reports on sustainable forest management and annual forest reports of Austria, Switzerland, Finland, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Spain were selected. The analysis of contents revealed that the Slovene reporting is mostly inefficient. While the forest reports of selected countries directly support forestry, environmental, energy and wood industry policy as well as the forestry profession, the Slovene reports lack end-users. Because of insufficient information, the reports cannot be used for shaping sectoral policies, steering forest development, and carrying out international reporting.
Forest management planning is the key part of forest management and an important tool for forest policy implementation. The paper social conditions change faster than forest ecosystems and planning must appropriately adjust to it. In the paper we evaluate strenghts, weaknesses, oportunities and threats of the present planning concept and argue for priority tasks and possibilities for supplementing some fields of planning.
Chronic browsing and inappropriate stand management are often discussed as causes for recruitment failure of tree species in temperate mixed uneven-aged forests. Continuous cover forestry is thought to produce conditions that are conducive to the recruitment of native shade-tolerant and browse-sensitive tree species such as silver fir (Abies alba Mill.). This study used density-dependent matrix population models parameterized for three main types of fir forests in Europe (53 048 measured trees from 3183 permanent sample plots) to project the effects of Business-As-Usual uneven-aged management (BAU) and three alternative management scenarios (Non-Intervention(NON), Profit Maximization (MAX) and stand management optimized for increasing recruitment (CONS)) on fir population dynamics over 100 years. BAU, MAX and, particularly, CONS improved the population parameters if natural recruitment was sufficient regardless of site, current and historical logging and transient and equilibrium growth rates under NON. In chronically browsed and recruitment-limited fir populations with transient and equilibrium growth rates ,1 under NON, the demographic ageing of fir can only be halted temporarily if silviculture is optimized for conservation, but none of the scenarios can prevent fir from decline. Our results suggest that a number of uneven-aged silvicultural systems, including more profit-oriented, can improve the demography of fir in central European mountain forests. However, they are not a pragmatic method to conserve fir when a population suffers from limited recruitment that causes an unmanaged population to decline.