Fuel-reduction treatments for restoration in eastern hardwoods: impacts on multiple ecosystem componentsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The Southern Appalachian Mountains and Ohio Hills sites are unique within the National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study because they are in hardwood-dominated forests. The efficacy of four fuel-reduction treatments was evaluated to restore these unmanaged hardwood forests to the structure and function of open woodland habitats. Treatments included control, prescribed burning, mechanical, and a combination of burning and mechanical treatments. Overstory basal area and density of saplings and shrubs were used as measures of ecosystem structure while soil carbon and breeding bird species richness were indicators of ecosystem function. The combination of burning and mechanical treatments provided the most rapid progress toward restoration but not all goals were met. At both study sites, overstory and understory vegetation remained too dense, soils were largely unaffected, and bird species richness showed only ephemeral increases. Repeated treatments are needed to replicate historical structure and function.