Retention trees can benefit biodiversity without significant long-term reduction in stand regeneration in Estonian mixed forests

  • Anna-Liisa ŠavrakEmail author
  • Liina Remm
  • Asko Lõhmus
Original Paper


Retention forestry is regarded as an efficient approach for conserving ecosystem functions and biodiversity in production forests, but its long-term impacts on forest ecosystem goods and services are poorly documented. We investigated the functioning of solitary retention trees in regenerated young forest as refuges or dispersal centres for shade-preferring species and explored the potential cost on future timber supply due to suppressed tree regeneration. We described land snail assemblages, soil characteristics, vegetation structure and stand regeneration along 50-m transects radially away from 34 deciduous retention trees in young stands (15–16 years post-harvest, passed the pre-commercial thinning) in Estonia. General linear modelling revealed that the abundance and species richness of snails were higher in close proximity of the retention trees. Neither stand regeneration density nor its basal area varied systematically along the distance gradient. Thus, contrary to our hypothesis, the positive impact of retention trees on shade-preferring and hygrophilous species group in young production stands had no clear trade-off with stand regeneration. The development of both these functions should be studied further in maturing forests.


Cost-effectiveness Hemiboreal forest Land snails Leaf litter Soil chemistry Timber production 



We are most grateful to Raul Rosenvald (Estonian University of Life Sciences) who allowed us access to his background data of the study sites when planning for this study. The staff at the soil laboratory of the Department of Soil Science and Agrochemistry (Estonian University of Life Sciences) kindly commented on the soil data. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript. The study was supported by the Estonian Research Council (Grant IUT 34-7).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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