Acronym

V4-2220

Department:

Department of Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources

Type of project

ARRS projects

Type of project

CRP \"Our food, countryside and natural resources\"

Role

Lead

Duration

01.10.2022 - 30.09.2025

Total

€200,000.00

Project manager at BF

Jerina Klemen

Abstract

Wild herbivorous ungulates are ecologically and economically one of most important species, managed by humans. Most of their ecological functions result from feeding, excreting, and urinating, effecting the rate of decomposition of plant tissue, the horizontal and vertical transport of nutrients, and the availability of nutrients in the soil. In forest ecosystems, selective browsing of regeneration of tree species can have important cascading effects. Browsing can affect the quality and species composition of adult trees and therefore impact the structure and developmental dynamics of forest ecosystems. This also has implications for the achievement of forest management objectives, forest vitality, the ability to adapt to climate change, and the profitability of forest management. The impact of ungulates on forest regeneration is clearly undesirable, and this has been observed and managed in Slovenia for decades.

Although the severity (acceptability) of ungulate impacts on forest regeneration is influenced by a number of factors, such as the carrying capacity and structure of the habitat, the composition and density of forest regeneration and given forest sylvicultural objectives and forest regeneration system, reduction of deer density is often the first measure chosen. However, ungulates are also important from many other perspectives. The relationships between ungulate densities and natural regeneration capacity are anything but linear. It is also not easy to monitor ungulate densities and the effects of a culling on density. Therefore, it is not at all easy to determine and maintain the suitable density of ungulates in the system of multipurpose forest management and various management objectives. With the aim to improve management planning for herbivorous ungulates (especially red deer and roe deer as key species), numerous research efforts have been conducted in Slovenia in recent decades. However, wildlife management planners still report several aspects of uncertainty.

The main objective of the proposed project is to consolidate the existing and provide additional necessary knowledge to cover gaps and, above all, transfer it to planning of wildlife management and silvicultural planning, all with the aim of improving the management of forest-wildlife relations and wildlife and forests in general. The project will therefore: (i) identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current herbivorous ungulate management planning system, with an emphasis on the impacts on forest; (ii) comprehensively analyze the factors affecting browsing and regeneration of key tree species; (iii) identify the strengths, weaknesses, and scope of the current method for monitoring browsing of forest regeneration for game-management planning purposes; (iv) evaluate the method for use in smaller, uniform areas (at the forest management unit level); (v) test and optimize the pellet group counting method to estimate density/abundance of red deer in smaller areas; (vi) test the method for estimating density/abundance of ungulates (particularly red deer and roe deer) using camera traps; (vii) based on all results, we will suggest upgrades to the main monitoring system (monitoring browsing of forest regeneration, estimation of abundance/density of ungulates) and to the general system of forest and game management planning of relationships between large herbivores and forest. We believe there is considerable space for improvement and untapped potential in the analysis and interpretation of existing data and knowledge transfer. Therefore, in the project we will focus on interactions with planners and other stakeholders at all stages. We will also address knowledge transfer through a series of targeted activities, such as meetings, workshops, supporting documentation, case studies, and field workshops for end users.

 

Research Organisation Partners

  • Slovenian Forestry Institute
  • Faculty of Environmental Protection

 

Researchers

link on sicris

 

The phases of the project and their realization

The project will be made in eight phases or work packages.

DS I. Analysis of the pross and cons of the current wildlife management and wildlife planning system of large herbivores with emphasis on their impacts on the forest

DS II. Analysis of the factors which influence on browsing and the success of the regeneration of the main forest tree species

DS III. Determination of the advantages, disadvantages and scope of the current method of monitoring the browsing of forest regenertaion in the perspective of hunting and economic management

DS IV. Development and optimization of the forest browsing census method for use on a small scale in small areas

DS V. Testing, cost estimation and optimization of a faecal pellet count method for estimating deer density in small areas

DS VI. Testing the utility, accuracy, cost estimation and optimization of the phototraps census method for estimation of ungulate density/abundance

DS VII. Refinement of the existing management planning system for the management of relations between large herbivores and the forest

DS VIII. Dissemination of project results

 

Citations for bibliographic records

link on sicris