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Estonian Forestry Development Programme set in 2003 ambitious goal that area of strictly protected forests should increase at least to 10% from total forest area in Estonia before 2010 by expanding the area of old-growth under protection, improving the representativeness of conservation areas and establishment of large conservation sites. Inventory of forests was carried out on existing and possible new conservation areas within the Estonian Forest Conservation Area Network project (EFCAN) in 1999-2001. EFCAN project had remarkable results. The share of strictly protected forests has increased to 7.8% of total forest area by 2009 and the network of conservation areas is quite well covering all forest ecosystems in Estonia. Several selected areas are still not protected for different reasons. These areas should still be considered for protection as the areas may lose their conservation value. Several forest types (meso-eutrophic, eutrophic boreo-nemoral and eutrophic paludifying forests) should have larger area for conservation and large disturbance areas (wind damage, forest fire) should be also included into the network.

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... Erineva looduslikkuse tasemega puistute struktuuri uuring (Põldveer et al., 2020) põhineb 212-l üle Eesti paiknevatel püsiproovitükkide andmetel. Puistu looduslikkuse hindamine koosneb kolmest komponendist: puistu loodusväärtused, kultuurilis-bioloogilised väärtused ja negatiivsed inimmõjud (Korjus et al., 2012). Looduslikkuse hindamisel saadud punktiskoori alusel jaotati puistud kolme klassi: majandatavad, taastuvad ja looduslikud metsad. ...
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As the focus in forestry is moving from timber production to prioritized economic benefits and better integration of ecological-social functions, practical forest management is shifting towards promoting diverse stand structures. Promoting stand structural heterogeneity requires accurate and profound evaluations of spatial stand structure that are generally not provided during conventional forest inventories. In this paper, different indices describing the heterogeneity of the stand and the spatial arrangement of trees, including their size, condition and species were assessed. Indices were applied to the inventory data collected from the Estonian Network of Forest Research Plots. The results show that the studied structural indices are useful in assessment of Estonian forest stands. The practical importance of structural indices will increase in future as there will be a need for methods for characterizing forest stand structural diversity at a large scale, for example, derived from high-resolution remote sensing data.
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There has been a long discussion among ecologists, foresters and natural resource managers over the need to combine traditional natural re- source management and forestry with classical nature protection methods. Ecosystem management is widely proposed in popular and scientific literature as a new way of managing natural resources and ecosystems. This new ap- proach is meant to ensure environment protection, preservation of biological diversity and sustainable development. In the present paper the principles of ecosystem management are analysed within the concept of forest management planning. The methodology for drawing up ecosystem-based management plans is addressed. The implementation of the methodology is illustrated by the drawing up of an ecosystem management plan for Kõpu Peninsula.
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The biodiversity of forested regions today is the result of complex historical interactions among physical, biological, and social forces over time, often heavily influenced by cycles of various sorts. Fire, agriculture technology, and trade have been particularly powerful human influences on forests. Virtually all of our planet's forests have been affected by the cultural patterns of human use, and the resulting landscape is an ever-changing mosaic of unmanaged and managed patches of habitat, which vary in size, shape, and arrangement. Because chance factors, human influence and small climatic variation can cause very substantial changes in vegetation, the biodiversity for any given landscape will vary substantially over any significant time period- and no one variant is necessarily more natural than the others. This implies that biodiversity conservation efforts may need to give greater attention to ecosystem processes than to ecosystem products. A review of historical evidence shows that past civilizations have tended to over-exploit their forests, and that such abuse of important resources has been a significant factor in the decline of the over-exploiting society. It appears that the best way to maintain biodiversity in forest ecosystems in the late 20th Century is through a combination of strictly protected areas (carefully selected on the basis of clearly defined criteria), multiple-use areas managed by local people, natural forests extensively managed for sustainable yield of logs and other products and services, and forest plantations intensively managed for the wood products needed by society. This diversity of approaches and uses will provide humanity with the widest range of options, the greatest diversity of opportunities, for adapting to the cyclical changes which are certain to continue.
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This paper investigates optimization approaches to simultaneously modelling habitat fragmentation and spatial correlation between patch populations. The problem is formulated with habitat connectivity affecting population means and variances, with spatial correlations accounted for in covariance calculations. Population with a pre-specified confidence level is then maximized in nonlinear programs that define habitat patches as circles (fixed shape) or rectangles (variable shape). The ideas and model formulations are demonstrate in a case example with a maximum of four habitat patches. Spatial layout of habitat is strongly sensitive to species dispersal characteristics and the spatial correlation structure resulting from different environmental disturbance agents.
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Comparison of forest protection between regions in Europe is extremely difficult, because there is such wide variation of strategies, procedures and constraints; the way forests have been used historically and their present closeness to nature also varies, and furthermore so does the definition of what constitutes a forest. For the European Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) in 2003, forest protection has been harmonised into three categories for the sake of comparison: protection to safeguard biodiversity, protection of landscape and specific natural features, and protective forest functions.
We estimated the minimum area of strictly protected forests, which could maintain species of “management-incompatible forests” (i.e. not surviving in timber production areas), in Estonia. The planned protected area comprised minimum amounts of habitat for the viability of such species, and a “buffer amount”, which may be temporarily lost in natural disturbances. The steps were 1) estimation of mean frequency of stand-replacing disturbances for Estonian forest site types; 2) reconstruction of the structure of natural forest area by age classes and forest site types; 3) comparison of the natural age structure with that in managed forests to define the management-incompatible part; 4) estimation of the historical area of different age classes, critical threshold of its loss for specialist species, and the “buffer” area; 5) defining gaps by comparing reserve need with current protected forest area; 6) analysis of the model sensitivity to errors in the estimates of wildfire frequency. Management-incompatible forest (> 100 yr since the last stand-replacing disturbance) covered historically 32–42% of today’s forest land. The theoretical minimum need for strictly protected forests was estimated at 8.5–11.3% of current forest land, one-fourth being the “buffer amount”. However, if current reserves retain their status, filling the gaps for underrepresented forest site types yields a total coverage of 10.4–13.2%. This difference is mostly due to the high present coverage within the current reserves of heath forests and oligotrophic paludifying forests (low silvicultural interest) and drained peatland forests (not a natural site type). The results were relatively insensitive to variation in the fire frequency data, and close to earlier estimates for Fennoscandia. We suggest that the estimated amount of reserve areas should be taken as approximate minimum targets in forest reserve development in Estonia, even though future studies are likely to increase the accuracy and precision of the estimates.
Forest species, especially species habiting in old f orests, can be preserv ed by nature restoration activities in certain cases. Monitoring of restoration areas is a continuous long -term research, enabling to evaluate the success of restoration activities and, if necessary , to plan some additional ac tivities needed. Monitoring also enables to develop the methods of nature restoration. The main method for nature restoration monitoring is forest stand monitoring by permanent sample plots (PSP) , together with scoring of stand nature value and species-specific special inventories. Establishing of PSPs f or monitoring nature restoration areas was in 2001–2004. Restoration activities took plac e in 2005. 50 restoration areas with permanent sample plots were established. Re-measurements will be performed after restoration activities are completed.
The method used in the Estonian Forest Conservation Area Network (EFCAN) project for inventorying natural values (INV) was analyzed in order to explore its efficiency. The method has been extensively used for creating the EFCAN and describing the naturalness of forest stands and key habitats on the existing nature conservation areas and potential new conservation areas. For the purposes of comparison with commercial for-ests, another data set from INV in forests at Järvselja was used. The method is suitable for INV; however, it is dependent on forest site types. It works well in almost all fertile forest site types and relatively well in poor paludified and peatland forests. The method seems to not work in alvar and boreal heath forests and the Vaccinium vitis-idaea forest site type. The study showed that the method is virtually useless in distinguishing between potential key habitats and "real" key habitats as well as between recovering forests and commercial forests with (potential) key habitats.
This study investigated the forest history, structural characteristics, the presence of fungal species suggested to indicate ecological continuity in old-growth forest, and the species composition of saproxylic beetles in 30 old forest ''woodland key habitats'' (WKHs), and compared them with production forest in the same age-class in south-eastern Norway. No statistically significant differences in forest characteristics, community of saproxylic beetles or number of red-listed beetles were found between the WKHs and the production forest, probably owing to a combination of profound long-term logging and a lack of will to delineate sufficiently large WKHs in the one area with significantly less forestry impact. The study indicates the advantage of including forest history information in WKH selection where such data exist, and the importance of restoring habitats in heavily exploited forest landscapes.
We review the effects of human impact on biodiversity of European forests in the light of recent views on disturbances and succession in ecosystems, and discuss recent ideas on how biodiversity affects ecosystem functions such as productivity and ecosystem stability. With this as a background we discuss how to better manage European forests for both production and biodiversity. We argue that the next generation of forestry practices need to understand and mimic natural disturbance dynamics much better than the present ones. Of particular importance is the fact that most species in European forests have evolved in forests that were to a large extent influenced by large grazers, first by megaherbivores and later, in historic times, by domestic animals. We highlight several areas where new knowledge and management tools are urgently needed: (i) How do species survive and adapt to the natural disturbance regimes in different regions and forest types? (ii) How can new and imaginative forest management practices be devised that take natural disturbance regimes into account? (iii) How does forest biodiversity affect ecosystem function and stability in a changing world, in particular in the light of predicted climate changes? (iv) How are ecological processes at different levels and scales related to diversity, and how do different management practices affect biodiversity? (v) How can efficient agroforestry methods be developed to preserve biodiversity? (vi) What is the role of humans and human behaviour for sustainable management of ecosystems?
In recent decades, European protected forest areas primarily dedicated to biodiversity conservation have been increasingly selected using standard criteria that refer to three guiding principles in conservation planning: sufficient representativeness, adequate spatial design and adequate site suitability. The way these criteria are currently used by land planners was assessed through a standardised questionnaire sent to representatives from 21 European countries involved in the COST E27 action, and compared to prescriptions from the scientific literature. Results show that only 26% of the 101 types of protected forest areas, distributed in nine different countries, have been selected on the basis of all three guiding principles. For many protected area networks, insufficient importance is given to spatial design and site conditions, with the result that long-term persistence of biodiversity is far from guaranteed. The use of quantitative objectives, operational targets and optimisation approaches is also infrequent, in spite of repeated commitments of European forest ministers (MCPFE) to establish coherent, comprehensive and representative forest conservation networks. Overall, the adoption of a more systematic approach in forest conservation planning seems to be hindered by a dearth of operational guidelines to assess spatial design and site suitability, by insufficient collaboration between biologists and land planners, and by a shortage of funding to establish conservation networks.
Sophisticated computational methods have been developed to help us to identify sets of nature reserves that maximize the representation of regional diversity, but, until recently, the methods have not dealt explicitly and directly with the main goal of reserve networks, that of the long-term maintenance of biodiversity. Furthermore, the successful application of current methods requires reliable information about species distributions, which is not always available. Recent results show that data quality, as well as the choice of surrogates for biodiversity, could be critical for successful reserve design. Because of these problems and a lack of communication between scientists and managers, the impact of computational site-selection tools in applied conservation planning has been minimal.
Vääriselupaikade inventeerimise [Method and programme for inventory of woodland key habitats], Eesti Metsaamet
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T. Piho, Puistu loodusväärtuse hindamine Eesti Metsakaitsealade Võrgustiku projekti ja üliõpilaste Järvselja õppepraktikate põhjal [Nature value assessment of forest stands from the Estonian Forest Conservation Area Network project and student field courses in Järvselja], Final thesis, Estonian Agricultural University, Department of Forest Management, 2005. (in Estonian)
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