Changes in the Forest Changes in the Forest

Estimating the term direction of changes taking place in the stands of the Bialowieża Forest

Analysis of changes in species composition and structure of forest stands will be carried out after the field measurements on the monitoring surfaces. At the beginning of the project, there will be used archival materials for comparative analysis, from studies carried out in previous periods of research (with except newly established surface field). In the last 2 years of the project after recollecting data on all surfaces, monitoring will be possible to complex analysis of changes directions in stands in different forest communities in Bialowieża Forest with use of field and remote methods. The changes in distribution of trees will also be analysed. On the beginning and the end of the period, there are calculated and reported based on 1 ha of the following characteristics of each trees species and the full test stand:

  • Density of trees,
  • Diameter cross-sectional area and thickness,
  • The average diameter at breast height and average height,
  • Density of air raids and saplings up to 1.3 m in height.

Thanks to the structural indicators of forest stands, including the similarity index, it will be possible to elaborate a concise assessment of the pace and direction of changes taking place in the stands. These activities will be supplemented by consultations, expert opinions and advice from experts in various fields between other forest ecology as well as modeling of ecological processes. There is planned to invite experts from the scientific community, with a rich theoretical knowledge and practical experience in environmental analysis.

Determining of spatial population dynamics of spruce in the Bialowieża Forest

During the project implementation dynamics of spruce will be monitored, especially taking into account the process of its dieback, and outbreaks of spruce caused by bark beetle Ips typographus gradations and mechanisms of their spread. These will be used for the purpose of data ground surface monitoring. Determining the spruce participation in the stands of Bialowieża Forest at selected sites at three time points (after three series of measurements in 2015, 2017 and 2019) and to identify its current renewal and mortality will verify the hypothesis of withdrawing the spruce specie from this region and enable an attempt to assess its prevalence in the stands of Bialowieża Forest in the future. In addition, basing on remote sensing data, there will be selected locations to observe spatial dynamics of bark beetle (Ips typographus) gradations. Such locations will be regularly monitored, throughout the duration of the project. This would allow identifying spatial and temporal dynamics of this phenomenon and help in assessing its significance for the dynamics of forest spruce. Remote sensing analysis will support the analysis on entire area of the Forest. Developed automated procedures will abbreviate the time of image interpretation.

Gaps dynamics determination

During the first analysis of remote sensing data (in the first year of the project), the spatial distribution of gaps and other open areas (generally named as gaps in the project) will be estimated, came out as a result of stands disintegration in the Bialowieża Forest. Their total acreage will be estimated and they will be classified into few groups:

  • Small gaps (up to 5 acres),
  • Gaps medium (6-30 acres),
  • Gaps large (31-50 acres),
  • Gaps very large (over 50 acres).

Depending on the size of the gap, there will established test areas (from 1 to 3), in the following years of the project. In each group, there is planned analysis of 5 new objects on 4 selected forest sites. Globally will be analysed few dozen stands with gaps. On each surface, measurements will be done according to the method from the A1 section. The size of the raid and undergrowth will be determined on the surface of a circular with a radius of 2.52 m (20 m2) located in the center of the 5-acres test area. In the large gaps, the measurements will be done in 5 areas of 5 acres (1 in the center of the gap and 4 in the outskirts - in for main directions). Ground-based measurements in designated areas and remote monitoring will be repeated in 5-6 year life of the project, which will identify the dynamics of the gaps. The main results will be answer for the problem of tree species composition, the density and height of renewals and the rate of gaps overgrowing. Ground-based measurements within the gaps will be then correlated with analysis of remote sensing data and photogrammetry. With terrestrial reference, it will be possible to inventory of all the gaps in the Bialowieża Forest. It will be possible to answer the questions:

  • What is the area of the gaps in given year and how it has changed over the duration of the project,
  • What kind of vegetation grows in the gaps (at least the division on conifers and deciduous),
  • What species are we able to monitor in the gaps,
  • How quickly a new generation grows.