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Background: In boreal zone forest management is changing and degrading forest habitats, which has caused declines in biodiversity. To mitigate these harmful effects in production forests, small-scale habitats with high biodiversity values have been protected within them. These habitats include woodland key habitats, and other small habitat patches protected by voluntary conservation actions. In this systematic review we synthesize the evidence on the value of small protected habitat patches (SPHP) within production forest landscapes for biodiversity. Review question: Are small protected habitat patches within boreal production forests effective in conserving species richness, abundance, and community composition? Methods: Both peer-reviewed and grey literature were searched from bibliographical databases, organizational websites and internet search engines in English, Finnish, Swedish and Russian. Articles were screened at two stages (title/abstract and full text) and the validity of the included studies were assessed. Screening and validity assessment were based on predetermined criteria. After data extraction, narrative and quantitative syntheses were conducted. Influences of effect modifiers were tested, and sensitivity analyses were conducted. Review findings: During the searches 19,458 articles were found. After duplicate removal and title/abstract screening 336 articles remained. During full text screening 41 articles were included and 35 of them (174 studies) were included in narrative synthesis. 28 articles with 127 studies had suitable data for meta-analysis. SPHPs had significantly higher species richness compared to production forests. When compared to natural forests, there was no significant difference. Forest management in areas surrounding SPHPs did not have impact on species richness of these patches. Individual abundance was significantly higher in SPHPs compared to natural or production forests. There was significantly more dead wood in SPHPs compared to production forests, but when compared to natural forests there was no significant difference. Community composition was different between SPHPs and both production and natural forests. Conclusions: The findings of this review show that small protected patches within production forests are important part of biodiversity conservation. They cannot substitute larger protected areas but supplement the protected area network. However, there were gaps both in geographical distribution of the studies as well as in the selection of target species of the studies. Therefore, generalization of the results must be done carefully.
Häkkilä, M., Johansson, A., Sandgren, T., Uusitalo, A., Mönkkönen, M., Puttonen, P., & Savilaakso, S. (2021, December 1). Are small protected habitat patches within boreal production forests effective in conserving species richness, abundance and community composition? A systematic review. Environmental Evidence. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13750-020-00216-6
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