Santa Celma, Kārlis Dūmiņš, Jānis Ozoliņš


Deer populations in Latvia are steadily growing and the amount of damage caused by deer in young forest stands is increasing. Animals are not only feeding on herbaceous plants and shrubs, but also on the new trees of the most economically valuable tree species.

In Scots pine stands, the animals feed on young shoots and scrape the bark, damaging the trunks. The extent of the damage is often so significant that the planting of the target species needs to be repeated. Without changing hunting practices, foresters should take protective measures for planted tree such as treatment with repellents and fencing and change their thinning methods.

In order to reduce the pressure on so-called “target trees”, it is possible to vary the techniques and intensity of thinning. The way forestry management is carried out and the protection method used affects the costs of forest cultivation. The results of these studies suggest that selective thinning (around target trees in circles or columns) increases the feeding base of animals and reduces the damage they cause. The protection of individual target trees with repellents is more effective if the thinning of trees does not lead to increased movement of deer in young forest stands. Regionally the size of deer populations and the proportions of various species vary, so the impact of deer caused damage also differs. Restoring of high-quality pine forests without the use of protective techniques is practically impossible at the existing animal density.