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Effects of fire place use on forest vegetation and amount of woody debris in suburban forests in northwestern Switzerland

Hegetschweiler, K. T. and van Loon, N. and Ryser, A. and Rusterholz, H.-P. and Baur, Bruno. (2009) Effects of fire place use on forest vegetation and amount of woody debris in suburban forests in northwestern Switzerland. Environmental Management, vol. 43. pp. 299-310.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5252546

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Abstract

Urban forests are popular recreation areas in Europe. Several of these temperate broad-leaved forests also have a high conservation value due to sustainable management over many centuries. Recreational activities, particularly the use of fireplaces, can cause extensive damage to soil, ground vegetation, shrubs, and trees. Firewood collection depletes woody debris, leading to a loss of habitat for specialized organisms. We examined the effects of fireplace use on forest vegetation and the amount of woody debris by comparing disturbed and control plots in suburban forests in northwestern Switzerland. At frequently used fireplaces, we found reduced species densities in the ground vegetation and shrub layer and changes in plant species composition due to human trampling within an area of 150–200 m². Picnicking and grilling also reduced the height and changed the age structure of shrubs and young trees. The amount of woody debris was lower in disturbed plots than in control plots. Pieces of wood with a diameter of 0.6–7.6 cm were preferentially collected by fireplace users. The reduction in woody debris volume extended up to a distance of 16 m from the fire ring, covering an area of 800 m² at each picnic site. In order to preserve the ecological integrity of urban forests and to maintain their attractiveness as important recreation areas, we suggest depositing logging residues to be used as firewood and to restrict visitor movements near picnic sites.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Baur, Bruno and Rusterholz, Hans-Peter
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1432-1009
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:22 Mar 2012 14:28
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:03

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