Effects of environmental factors and forest management on landscape-scale forest storm damage in Turkey

Key message Windstorms have recently caused noteworthy destruction across the Northern forests of Turkey. The intensive forest management practices applied for more than 60+ years may unknowingly have resulted in wind-sensitive forests in the region. After a storm, the forest service salvages the losses, but no further precaution is taken against future storms. To our knowledge, there has not been any research looking into the cumulative effects of environmental factors on storm damage in Turkish forests. Maxent, which is an ecological niche model, might help decision-makers in developing forest management strategies against storms given its ease of use, known successful performance, and flexible variable evaluation approach. This study revealed that management preferences were mainly responsible for forest storm damage in Kastamonu Province, Turkey.
Context Excessive wind cause serious damages to individual trees and forest stands. When unintentionally coupled with the forest management preferences, catastrophic levels of damage might be unavoidable.
Aims The main objective was to assess the environmental factors contributing to the impact of a strong windstorm that occurred between March 14 and 15, 2013 and resulted in 1.5-million m3 timber losses in the Kastamonu Regional Directorate of Forestry.
Methods Maximum entropy modeling (Maxent) and geographic information systems (GIS) were used to evaluate the factors contributing to the forest damage.
Results Stand type, diameter class, and elevation were the most important variables affecting the level of wind damage. The pure and mixed coniferous stands were the hardest hit when compared with the deciduous stands. The damage increased as the density of forest roads grew.
Conclusion It was concluded that windstorms pose serious threats to Turkish forests. Storm damage risks must therefore be integrated into forest management. In order to better understand the environmental factors contributing to the destructive effects of windstorms in forests, it would be best to focus on the telltale signs pointing the wrong-doing in forest management preferences at larger environmental scale rather than looking for reasons behind the occurrences of scattered small-scale damage.

Forest management, Storm damage, Stand stability, Environmental influences, Maxent, GIS

Torun, P., Altunel, A.O. Effects of environmental factors and forest management on landscape-scale forest storm damage in Turkey. Annals of Forest Science 77, 39 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-020-00945-1

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Data availability
All datasets used and transformed during the analyses were acquired from the state agencies. They are strictly service-only-oriented; thus, no sharing is possible.

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