Effects of ecological restoration

Last changed: 18 August 2021
Black and white bird, with yellow on the head. Sitting on a tree.

How are insects, birds, vascular plants, bryophytes, wood fungi and the risk for bark beetle damage influenced by ecological restoration? The effect on biodiversity of two types of ecological restoration, gap-cutting and prescribed burning, is evaluated in this large-scale long-term experiment.

To fulfill national and international environmental objectives on biodiversity conservation we need to develop new cost-efficient methods to mitigate negative effect of land-use on biodiversity. As very little old growth forest remain in our landscapes we can no longer rely on passive conservation effort, e.g., creating different types of protected areas. Instead we need to start restoring previously managed forest stands.

However, to make possible that ecological restoration becomes standard procedure in forestry/biodiversity conservation cost-efficient restoration methods that mimic the natural disturbances which historically structured our forests need to be developed.

A long-term field experiment

The project was initiated 2010 when baseline data collection were conducted. The restoration measures were conducted the following year when also follow-up data collection was initiated, which have continued over time.

Two different types of ecological restoration has been used; gap-cutting and prescribed burning. Gap-cutting increases light intensity and dead wood was created in the gaps to improve dead wood availability. Prescribed burning will also provide increased amount of dead wood as some of the trees will die due to the fire.

In total the experiment consists of 30 stands (10 gap-cuttings, 10 burned and 10 untouched control stands) in the counties of Västerbotten and Västernorrland. The project has generated a large number of sub-projects and is a collaboration with the forest company Holmen Skog.


 Man in safety vest in burning forest.

Prescribed burning of a stand included in the project. Photo: Joakim Hjältén


Project title: Restoration project

Collaboration: The project is a collaboration between researchers at SLU (department of wildlife, fish, and environmental studies and departments of forest mycology and plant pathology), LaTrobe University, Australia, UQAM, Canada and the forest company Holmen. The project has generated a large number of sub-projects.

Funding: Futute forest, Formas, Skogssällskapet, Kempestiftelserna, Lammska stiftelsen and SLU

Project group: Joakim Hjältén1, Jörgen Sjögren1, Therese Löfroth1, Anne-Maarit Hekkala1, Anders Dahlberg2, Mats Dynesius1, Martijn Versluijs1,3 Heloise Gibb4 and Timothy Work5.

1dept of wildlife, fish, and environmental studies, SLU, Umeå. 2dept. of forest mycology and pathology, SLU, Uppsala, 3University of Helsinki, Finland, SLU, Umeå, 4LaTrobe University, Australia, 5UQAM, Canada.