Assessing post-storm forest dynamics in the Pyrenees using high-resolution LIDAR data and aerial photographs
González-Olabarria, José Ramón
Martín Alcón, Santiago
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We evaluated how historical storm events have shaped the current forest landscape in three Pyrenean subalpine forests (NE Spain). For this purpose we related forest damage estimations obtained from multi-temporal aerial photographic comparisons to the current forest typology generated from airborne
LiDAR data, and we examined the role of past natural disturbance on the current spatial distribution of forest structural types. We found six forest structural types in the landscape: early regeneration (T1 and T2), young even-aged stands (T3), uneven-aged stands (T4) and adult stands (T5 and T6). All of the types were related to the timing and severity of past storms, with early-regeneration structures being found in areas markedly affected in recent times, and adult stands predominating in those areas that had suffered lowest damage levels within the study period. In general, landscapes where high or medium levels of damage were recurrent also presented higher levels of spatial heterogeneity, whereas the opposite pattern was found in the less markedly affected landscape, characterized by the presence of large regular patches. Our results show the critical role that storm regimes in terms of timing and severity of past storms can play in shaping current forest structure and future dynamics in subalpine forests. The knowledge gained could be used to help define alternative forest management strategies oriented toward the enhancement of landscape heterogeneity as a measure to face future environmental uncertainty.