The impact of forest management on the microclimate - a case from the Belianske Tatry, Slovakia
Temperature is a crucial driver of ecosystem dynamics in forests. Thermal changes within forests can be highly variable and are dependent on multiple factors, such as forest type, soil composition, edge orientation, slope, humidity and climate conditions. In this study we focused on temperature measurement of forest stands using a thermal camera, in three different localities within the Belianske Tatras. These localities were selected based on slope orientation and differentiated by vegetation type. The main aim of the study was to determine the surface temperature of the forest area in terms of seasonal and diurnal/night temporal changes. Field measurements were carried out continuously for two years. The results suggested significant temperature differences between the measured localities and also showed in which locations the most heat accumulates, the influence of slope orientation on tree growth, and the response of vegetation to seasonal changes. If the forest is significantly damaged, it cannot function properly to mitigate large temperature fluctuations. The forest must inhabit a particular footprint and utilize the correct management strategy for proper growth and regeneration in order to maintain a mild microclimate. From an ecological perspective, it preferable to leave old mixed forests as intervention free as possible. Intervention may include logging, planting of monocultures, or drainage of slopes with the help of heavy machinery, and contributes to long-standing problems that persist for decades. Belianske Tatras, as an eastern locality with unique dolomites and rare vegetation, fully captures the nature of the Tatras and is a prime example of the microclimate within this region. This microclimate is crucial to this mountain complex for the prevention of periphery drought, whereby water resources will be lost. Additionally, within this study, thermal imaging proved to be a suitable tool to understand ecosystem response to temperature extremes This technique still has its flaws, and must be fine-tuned to fully determine temperature, thermal conductivity, specific heat and emissivity within these environments.
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