Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Above-and belowground responses to tree thinning depend on the treatment of tree debris

Published source details

Owen S.M., Sieg C.H., Gehring C.A. & Bowker M.A. (2009) Above-and belowground responses to tree thinning depend on the treatment of tree debris. Forest Ecology and Management, 259, 71-80


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Remove woody debris after timber harvest Forest Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in 2003-2006 in temperate coniferous forest in Colorado USA (Owen et al. 2009) found that woody debris removal treatments had mixed effects on plant cover and species richness. Six to 18 months after treatment, percentage cover and species richness/m2 of plants were higher in untreated plots and those where debris was cut up and left (46-50% cover, 7 species) than where debris was piled and burned (1% cover, <1 species). After 2.5-3.5 years the percentage cover and species richness/m2 of plants were highest where debris was cut up (46% cover, 8 species), lower in untreated plots (26%-29% cover, 6 species) and the lowest where debris was piled and burned (4% cover, <1 species). Three treatments were applied in three sites (1-2 km2): untreated, piled and burned (cutting trees, piling debris and burning in areas 3–6 m2) and cutting and leaving mulched material (areas 10–12 m2). Monitoring was in a total of 75 untreated, 50 piled and burned and 50 cut up treatment plots (1 × 1 m).