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ŠUMARSKI LIST 3-4/2023 str. 56     <-- 56 -->        PDF

Forest clearings, forest gaps and canopy openings are very important habitat elements of diverse, balanced and mostly mature forest stands. As an indispensable part of developing stable forest complexes, formed by localized stand openings, forest clearings are characterized by structural uniqueness and constant variability (White and Pickett 1985, Runkle and Yetter 1987, Busing and White 1997, Schliemann and Bockheim 2011).
Despite numerous studies of forest clearings in various types of forest ecosystems around the world, the insufficient knowledge of such habitat forms in our area, as well as the syndynamic variability related to climate and geographical position, represent the biggest source of their categorization difficulties. Additional challenge of forest clearings in Croatia is their role in forest management programme within the Natura 2000 preservation network (OG 7/06), where non-selective control measure prescription in practice can lead to undesirable consequences of other forest habitat types. For this reason, this widely understood vegetation term “forest clearing” represents, not just a challenge in forest management, but potentially practical problem of control measure implementation.
In order to clarify and approximate the existing terminology issues, this paper, based on applicable research, established structural categorization of forest clearings regarding their origin, type (shape), size, location and vegetation affiliation in accordance with the National Habitat Classification of the Republic of Croatia, as well as proposed types of sustainable control measures. The results are subjected to subsequent changes and/or additions and can be used as fundamental starting point for future research of forest clearings in our area.
Key words: structural characteristics of forest clearings, vegetation of forest clearings, forest clearings dynamics