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The implications of upland conifer management for breeding birds

Alice Broome, Robert J. Fuller

Lead Author: John Calladine

Home Publications The implications of upland conifer management for breeding birds

Stand structure is an important determinant of habitat quality for forest biodiversity and is influenced by management. In conifer plantations, the varied structure created within a stand by continuous cover forestry (CCF) systems has been expected to be better for woodland birds than the range of discrete stand structures created through rotations of clearfelling and replanting (CFR). This study compared the number of breeding bird species (species richness) and their abundance within Sitka spruce stands which have been managed under CCF and by CFR. The study showed that species richness within CCF stands was higher than in CFR but young growth stages of CFR were important for some birds. Bird species richness is further influenced by the presence of a woody understorey or scrub vegetation structure. When stand types were ranked by species richness alone, CCF with a shrubby understorey was the most species rich, followed by CCF without a shrubby understorey, with young CFR and then older CFR being the least species rich. Modelling scenarios were used to test the effect of changing proportions of CCF and CFR in the landscape on the abundance of selected species. Designing a landscape which includes both CFR and CCF could prove to be a strategy for achieving optimal bird richness and abundance, as conditions for scrub-dependent species and the high structural diversity important for bird species associated with older stands are maintained.


PDF, 1.79 MB

Publication type
Research Note
Publication owner
Forestry Commission