The influence of forest harvesting on landscape spatial patterns and old-growth-forest fragmentation in southeast British Columbia
Habitat fragmentation is considered one of the major conservation issues of recent decades. We tested predictions of landscape patterns in a 352,253-ha managed forest area in southeast British Columbia. We did this by focussing on forest fragmentation concerns among old-growth, harvest, and wildfire patches in 44 delineated landscapes using patch indices as measures of landscape pattern. We found no significant association between amount of harvesting and 15 old-growth patch indices. Comparisons among patch types revealed that amounts and spatial patterns of harvest patches differed little from amounts and spatial patterns of old-growth patches in control landscapes. Variability indices revealed similar variability between harvest patches and old-growth patches, and more variability between harvest patches and wildfire patches. Little of the evidence gathered in this study supported predictions of fragmentation of old-growth spatial patterns, or predicted differences between harvest spatial patterns and more naturally occurring spatial patterns. We suggest these results could be due to the relatively small amounts of harvesting and old-growth forest in these landscapes, and therefore habitat amount may be a more important factor than spatial configuration of patches in these landscapes.