iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


The natural recovery of disturbed soil, plant cover and trees after clear-cutting in the boreal forests, Russia

Aleksey Ilintsev (1-2)   , Alexander Bogdanov (1-2), Elena Nakvasina (2), Irina Amosova (3), Sergey Koptev (2), Sergey Tretyakov (2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 13, Issue 6, Pages 531-540 (2020)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3371-013
Published: Nov 18, 2020 - Copyright © 2020 SISEF

Research Articles

This study aims to determine the impact of forest harvesting machinery on the temporarily moist soil of spruce forests (Picea abies Karst.) during the summer. For research purposes, we investigated 23 sites of the boreal forest in the European North of Russia (Arkhangelsk region) where logging operations had been carried out using harvesters and forwarders (CTL, cut-to-length harvesting). In the 15 years after logging, the sites were monitored for changes in physical soil properties and the depth/width of ruts and vegetation. In freshly cut areas, the depth of the ruts was linked to the amount of logging residue that had been used to strengthen skidding trails. After 15 years, the ruts were smooth but had not disappeared entirely. The average depth of the ruts decreased from 36 cm to 18 cm during the period under review. At a depth of 0-10 cm, the soil bulk density of the section between the control area and the wheel track increased by 19-27% within the first two years. At a depth of 10-20 cm, the soil bulk density only increased by 16-17% within the two-year period. After 15 years, the soil bulk density had decreased to the extent that there were no signs of heavy machinery movement. The natural restoration of vegetation in the ruts was affected by the presence of stagnant water in the initial post-logging period. Ruderal species and species with broad ecological amplitude to environmental factors grew over the skid trails. 15 years after logging, this overgrowth had stabilised, with the biodiversity level in the control area approaching its pre-logging state. Primarily, the renewal of the cutting areas occurred through species such as birch (Betula pendula Roth.) and aspen (Populus tremula L.). The highest amount of undergrowth (more than 30.000 ha-1) was detected 6-8 years after logging. This then decreases in areas that were cut down earlier. There are environmental consequences of clear-cutting (using the CTL system) on temporarily moist soil. To prevent the formation of deep ruts, it is recommended to leave 15-20 kg m-2 of felling residue.


Clear-cuttings, Soil Disturbance, Rutting, Vascular Species, Natural Tree Regeneration

Authors’ address

Aleksey Ilintsev 0000-0003-3524-4665
Alexander Bogdanov
Northern Research Institute of Forestry, Arkhangelsk 163062 (Russia)
Aleksey Ilintsev 0000-0003-3524-4665
Alexander Bogdanov
Elena Nakvasina 0000-0002-7360-3975
Sergey Koptev
Sergey Tretyakov
Department of Silviculture and Forest Management, Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M.V. Lomonosov, Arkhangelsk 163002 (Russia)
Irina Amosova
Department of Biology, Ecology and Biotechnology, Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M.V. Lomonosov, Arkhangelsk 163002 (Russia)

Corresponding author

Aleksey Ilintsev


Ilintsev A, Bogdanov A, Nakvasina E, Amosova I, Koptev S, Tretyakov S (2020). The natural recovery of disturbed soil, plant cover and trees after clear-cutting in the boreal forests, Russia. iForest 13: 531-540. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3371-013

Academic Editor

Rodolfo Picchio

Paper history

Received: Feb 10, 2020
Accepted: Sep 14, 2020

First online: Nov 18, 2020
Publication Date: Dec 31, 2020
Publication Time: 2.17 months

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