We used novel remote sensing techniques to compare the landscape-scale patterns of forest structure in Pennsylvania, USA under the management of four different agencies with varying primary objectives, including production forestry, wildlife habitat, recreation, and private ownership. We (i) developed a forest structure classification scheme using publicly available LiDAR and orthographic aerial imagery data, (ii) mapped the forest structure across twenty forested landscapes, and (iii) compared the landscape-scale forest structure patterns among the four forest management types. Our results indicate that different management philosophies and their associated forest management approaches have resulted in contrasting landscape-scale patterns of forest structure. Privately managed forests had shorter forests, higher densities of distinct patches, higher interspersion of patch types, and higher forest structure diversity at fine-scales (1.5 ha grain size) compared to forests lightly managed for recreation. Production forests under ecosystem management and forests managed for wildlife habitat exhibited intermediate patterns of forest structure. This variation in forest structure patterns among the forest managers is likely to have implications for wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services. Furthermore, greater emphasis is needed on encouraging private landowners to manage across property boundaries and providing the resources and tools to manage forests at the landscape scale.
Authors and Publishers
Eric K. Zenner
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