Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Log/remove trees within forests: effects on young trees Forest Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One replicated controlled study in Canada found that logging trees in forests increased the density of young trees. One replicated controlled study in Costa Rica found mixed effects on the density of young trees.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, controlled study in 1992-2001 in boreal forest in Ontario, Canada (Bebber et al. 2005) found that structural retention harvest increased tree sapling density. Average sapling density increased from 4,178 to 5,109 saplings/ha in harvested compared with unharvested plots. Harvesting was carried out in 1992.  Remaining trees were healthy seed bearers and declining quality trees. Six unharvested control plots and 12 harvested plots, spread over an area of approximately 1,200 ha were monitored during August and September 2001. Plot areas varied from 3 to 104 ha (average 26 ha). Fifty five sample points were placed within control plots and 89 within harvested plots (3–20 points/plot). Tree saplings were recorded inside a 5 m radius ring around plot centre.



A replicated, controlled study in 1997-2002 in tropical rain forest in Costa Rica (Lobo et al. 2007) found that selective logging decreased the density of seedlings and small juvenile trees but increased the number of larger trees. For Caryocar costaricense, the density (individuals/ha) of seedlings (<50 cm tall) (logged: 3.1; unlogged: 4.5) and small juveniles (<2 cm diameter at breast height) (logged: 5.2; unlogged: 8.0) was higher in unlogged plots. In contrast, the density of large juveniles (2-10 cm diameter at breast height) was higher in logged plots (logged: 4.3; unlogged: 2.4). For purpleheart Peltogyne purpurea, the density of seedlings (logged: 208.8; unlogged: 511.2) was higher in unlogged plots, while the density did not differe for small (logged: 2.2; unlogged: 3.1) and large juveniles (logged: 2.6; unlogged: 2.2). Data were collected in 2002 in three logged (selective logging in 1997-1998) and three unlogged plots (100 × 30 m) in each of 11 sites.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Agra H., Schowanek S., Carmel Y., Smith R.K. & Ne’eman G. (2019) Forest Conservation. Pages 331-347 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.