Improved recruitment and early growth of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings after fire and soil scarification.

M.G. Hille, J. den Ouden

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67 Citations (Scopus)


The success of seedling recruitment of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) is strongly dependent on soil surface properties, such as humus depth and moisture content. In an undisturbed forest floor, seedlings are seldom able to become established due to the high incidence of desiccation in the organic soil layer. Methods that remove the organic soil layer are often necessary to improve the availability for radicles to reach the more stable moisture regime in the mineral soil. In this study we investigated pine-seedling establishment after mechanical soil scarification, burning of litter (OL) and burning of litter and humus (OL and OFH) in two mature pine stands in Germany. The herbaceous layer of the first stand was dominated by grasses (Molinia caerulea L. and Deschampsia flexuosa L.), whereas the herbaceous layer of the second stand was dominated by blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.). Pine seeds were placed in experimental plots, and seedling numbers and heights were recorded at regular intervals. All treatments that removed organic soil resulted in higher seedling counts than did the undisturbed forest floor. The highest seedling counts were found on scarified and severely burnt plots, whereas seedling counts were lower on lightly burnt plots. Seedlings were significantly taller on burnt plots. This study shows that pine regeneration is stimulated by fire, not only in boreal forests, but also under central European conditions. With the expectation of higher fire frequency in the near future due to climatic changes, natural regeneration and succession on burnt sites should receive more focus in forest management and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-218
JournalEuropean Journal of Forest Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • natural regeneration
  • southern sweden
  • northern sweden
  • clear-cut
  • boreal
  • forest
  • stand
  • establishment
  • germination
  • understory

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