Deer impact on Turkey oak and chestnut coppice production in Tuscany. Experimental survey and a methodological approach

Silvia Fiorentini, Davide Travaglini, Susanna Nocentini


The aim of this paper is to define a quick method for estimating the loss of wood production at rotation age caused by red deer and roe deer in chestnut coppices and in Turkey oak coppices. Three study areas were chosen for the study, with presence of different or overlapping red deer and roe deer populations. A total of 224 plots were selected in coppiced areas 2 and 5 years after felling. General yield tables were used for estimating coppice growth with and without browsing. Results showed a sensible difference between areas with red deer and areas with only roe deer. Chestnut coppices showed a better reaction to deer browsing compared to Turkey oak coppices. In Turkey oak coppices impacted by red deer browsing after felling, we estimated a sensible loss of production at traditional rotation age (18 years), and an average of 8 years was needed to attain the same level of production as in non-impacted coppices. With only roe deer, an average of 2 years were needed after rotation age to reach expected production. In chestnut coppices, at traditional rotation age (8 years) a loss of wood production was estimated in less than half of all the examined coppices. In these cases 2 more years were estimated to reach the expected production at rotation age. With red deer bark stripping was frequently recorded on both young and older shoots in chestnut coppices. We concluded that in areas with an overabundance of deer such as the one we examined here, there is the need for a change not only in deer management but also in forest management. A shared management strategy of both coppices and deer populations at the different space and time scales is necessary otherwise coppicing will continue to be a factor of strong attraction for deer impact, with serious risks for the conservation of coppice regeneration and productivity. The quick assessment method here presented can be a useful tool for supporting discussion and shared decisions among the different stakeholders involved in natural resource planning and management.


coppice; Turkey oak; chestnut; roe deer; wood production

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