Forest Management as a Component of
Ungulate Management to Avoid Game Damage
Friedrich Reimoser1*, Susanne Reimoser1, Ursula Nopp-Mayr2
1University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria
2University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Submission: March 08, 2021; Published: March 15, 2021
*Corresponding author: Friedrich Reimoser, Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria
How to cite this article: Friedrich R, Susanne R, Ursula N-M. Forest Management as a Component of Ungulate Management to Avoid Game Damage.
Agri Res & Tech: Open Access J. 2021; 25 (5): 556318. DOI: 10.19080/ARTOAJ.2021.25.556318
Forest management system as a component of ungulate pest management. Wild ungulates are an important site factor in forests and landscapes. Impacts of ungulates on forest vegetation and the effect of hunting systems are often investigated and discussed. In contrast, the impact of silvicultural systems on forest damage by ungulates is much less conscious. Therefore, in a long-term research program in Central Europe since the 1990ies two questions were investigated additionally, (i) in which way can forest management systems and landscape structures influence the interactions between ungulates and forest vegetation, and (ii) how can silvicultural practices modify the susceptibility of forests to damage by ungulates. The results showed a strong impact of these factors on the emergence of game damage to forests. Factors that are often underestimated in practice. Recommendations for a coordinated management of different land users to avoid ungulate damage to forest vegetation and to preserve biodiversity were made.
Keywords:Forestry; Silviculture; Ungulates; Game damage; Wildlife ecology; Integrated management
In Central Europe, particularly in Germany and Austria, forest and ungulate game are traditionally regulated in separate laws (forest laws, hunting laws). Other human activities as agriculture and outdoor recreation that also impact wildlife-forest interactions are regulated in further laws, often without consideration to ungulates and their impact on vegetation. Therefore, wildlife, plants, and landscapes were not really understood as a joint ecosystem and interactions in the system were neglected. Often a lack of knowledge and of coordination between forestry and hunting measures promotes game damage . In the research program, these basics and interdependencies in different regions and landscapes were investigated, and measures for an integrated forest-game management were recommended to prevent game damage efficiently [2–6]. Possible causes for increased game damage were described systematically [7–9]. Viewing the last decades, background, developments, perspectives of the game-damage problem and the forest-hunting conflict have been analysed and summarized [10, 11].
On the basis of the results from the investigations, models for assessing the habitat quality for roe deer and the susceptibility of
the forest to browsing damage were created [12–14]. Further, the susceptibility of forests to bark peeling by red deer was modelled .
In order to obtain an understanding of the forest-ungulate compartment in the ecosystem with the aim of better management, the impact of ungulates on forest vegetation, as well as the impact of habitat structure and dynamics on ungulates (density, distribution etc.) and on the forest’s susceptibility to game damage should be considered. Browsing and peeling impact depends markedly on silvicultural techniques. The attractiveness of habitats for game depends not only on food supply, but also, to a high degree, on food-independent habitat factors such as terrain conditions, climate, edge effect, disturbance and competition impact, and thermal and hiding cover availability. Forests with a badly managed ratio of settling stimulus to available food act as ‘ecological traps’, where the food needed for the over-abundant game ungulates is taken increasingly by twig browsing and bark peeling of timber species. In general, one can say that a clear-cut system is attractive to deer and chamois. It is easy to hunt in, but it is susceptible to game damage. In particular, clear cutting in narrow strips and reafforestation have a high predisposition to
game damage. In contrast, selective silviculture results in a more
balanced system with less impact by ungulate game on forest
vegetation, though hunting might be more difficult. Higher deer
densities need not be associated with greater browsing damage;
such damage also depends strongly on the growing-stock target
and the silvicultural system. If forestry practices are ‘close to
nature’, an occurence of ungulates may also result in a greater
density of forest regeneration and a better mixture of tree species.
The important conclusion is that unacceptable game damage
is promoted by poor forestry practices. To counter this, forestry
must rehabilitate monocultural forests to be more natural, and
natural regeneration strategies must be the preferred ones.
Clear cutting with a need for artificial reafforestation should be
avoided, thereby further reducing the predisposition of a forest to
game damage. It has been shown that such forest management is
economically viable (e.g. (16)), indeed often more profitable than
clear-cut management: however, provision of related information
and training for foresters and hunters alike must be intensified. At
the same time the forester achieves an optimal forest environment
that satisfies the hunting fraternity, the public, and the demands of
(i) See the forest ecosystem, including its animals, holistically;
(ii) recognize the importance of the silvicultural system as a
habitat factor; (iii) include ungulate game as a site factor in forest
management; (iv) recognize the importance of the silvicultural
system as a game-damage factor; (v) define management targets
clearly to be able to recognize ‘damage’; (vi) in assessing damage,
take compensatory mortality of trees into account; (vii) reduce
food-independent settling stimuli; (viii) improve natural food
availability; (ix) avoid clear cuts and optically striking stand
edges; (x) promote natural regeneration in silviculture; (xi)
coordinate habitat and ungulate management; (xii) support more
interdisciplinary research into forest-ungulate-man interactions.
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