SCA have designated ten landscapes as ÅGP (Action Plan) landscapes, due to their high concentration of ÅGP species – species that require specific habitat conditions. Our 203 protected species include 30 ÅGP species that are particularly sensitive and require specific management interventions. By promoting these species, we can also promote several of our other protected species, because they can benefit from our measurements.
All ÅGP species are included in national action plans (ÅtGärdsProgram, ÅGP) created by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
ÅGP species do not primarily require protected areas for their survival. They require interventions in order to survive. Many of these species are therefor disadvantaged in environments that are set aside to develop freely, as they are adapted to a life in forests with natural disturbances, especially fires. Mimicking these natural disturbances is therefore an important part of our work.
Many ÅGP species are insects that thrive in very old deciduous and pine forests. But their habitats have slowly deteriorated because the forests are no longer disturbed by events such as fires. As a result, the habitats of many species are now generally small and a long way from each other.
We are now mobilizing to promote these care-demanding ÅGP species. As a rule, we need to improve the habitats where these species can already be found by carrying out nature conservation management. We also need to create new habitats and substrates in the younger forests nearby. Therefore, we start early and already taking action in connection with clearing and thinning the younger production forests nearby. In that way, we can improve conditions for the species over time.
Landscapes with deciduous and pine forest
Our nature conservation management for several ÅGP species is focused on interventions in five pine landscapes, and five deciduous landscapes, that are highly important for the species.
In the pine landscapes, for example, we carry out prescribed burning and create new deadwood. We can also create future high-conservation value pines from as early as clearing age by releasing pine trees and damaging the base of their stems to mimic natural fire damage, and by creating new deadwood. These measures promote beetle families such as the horned powderpost beetle, longhorn beetle and Corticeus fraxini.
In the deciduous landscapes, we are mainly focused on the development and conservation of aspen and birch forests. For example, all aspen trees and medium-thick to thick birch trees are retained in regeneration harvesting. We promote deciduous species when clearing and thinning, and sometimes remove spruce to promote deciduous trees in old mixed forests. We also concentrate deciduous regeneration to these deciduous landscapes. Our measures promote species such as the Xylomya czekanovskii, Collema curtisporum and death-watch and spider beetle.
Some ÅGP species require very specific habitats and are known as umbrella species. This means that if we preserve and create habitats for these species, we are indirectly protecting many other species whose requirements are not as high. In this way, our efforts to preserve umbrella species also promote other ÅGP species, our own protected species and many of the other species that live in our forests.
Our work with ÅGP landscapes is a long-term project. Some measures have a relatively fast effect, while other measures take considerably longer to yield results. At present, we don’t have all the answers to what the best measures are for all species, but we rely on the latest research and are increasingly building on our own experience.
ÅGP landscapes and ÅGP species
Here we present three examples of the measures we carry out in ÅGP landscapes to promote ÅGP species and their habitats.
Spring pasqueflower and Prescribed burning
The spring pasqueflower species (Pulsatilla vernalis) is rare and is only found in a few places from Skåne in the south, up to Jämtland and Medelpad. It was classified as critically endangered in the 2020 Red List of Threatened Species. The spring pasqueflower stands about 1 decimeter tall and has large, bell-shaped flowers that are white on the inside, and light lilac to reddish on the outside. A spring pasqueflower plant can grow very old, up to 100 years. However, the flower does not have a seed bank, which means that the seeds cannot lie in the soil for several years and still retain their ability to germinate, so there is very little chance that the plant can recolonize a place from where it has disappeared.
Prescribed burning for the spring pasqueflower
The spring pasqueflower requires a disturbed soil structure with uncovered mineral soil for the seeds to germinate. The forest should preferably burn at regular intervals for the flower to thrive and propagate. We carry out specific interventions, such as prescribed burning, and have sown seeds to promote the flower. These measures to promote the flower are taking place in close collaboration with county administrative boards. There are many spring pasqueflowers in Fåssjödal in Härjedalen, and SCA has set aside about 100 hectares of land for a spring pasqueflower forest in Fåssjödal.
Insects that depend on burned forests – the horned powderpost beetle
Horned powderpost beetle
The horned powderpost beetle (Stephanopachys linearis) is a 4–6 mm long, shiny black-brown beetle. It is almost exclusively associated with post-fire coniferous forest sites, mainly pine, where the larvae can feed on fire-damaged trees. The beetle is therefore promoted by our prescribed burning that creates fire scars, or damaged stems, on pine trees, which are then left standing for a long time.
Burned pine forests
The horned powderpost beetle is dependent on a natural fire dynamic with regular forest fires. For this species to survive, it is absolutely critical that we carry out prescribed burns with the intensity to form fire scars, but not to kill the trees. The beetles develop in lesions that usually occur at the base and on one side of trees, where the tree gradually attempts to cover the scar with new bark. The beetles and their larvae graze on the wall between dead and living tissue.
Short-spored jelly lichen – Aspen forests
Short-spored jelly lichen
The short-spored jelly lichen (Collema curtisporum) is a leaf lichen, about 3 cm wide, dark olive-green to brown-black, and swells when it is wet. In dry conditions, the lichen is wrinkled and lies pressed against the bark of the aspen where it grows, often on the trunk. The lichen is completely dependent on aspen for its survival. The short-spored jelly lichen is classified as Vulnerable in the Red List and has been sighted from Jämtland and northwards, with a concentration in parts of Norrbotten. Photo: Jens Johansson/azotelibrary.com
Conserve and develop aspen forests
Short-spored jelly lichen is mostly found on mature aspen trees in semi-open mixed forests with high and even humidity. It often grows on northern slopes, by streams and along wetland edges, and preferably in a deciduous forest succession, which is when forests are disturbed by fire and then become a habitat for deciduous trees. To promote these conditions, we need to save forests with an abundance of aspen and retain all aspen trees as conservation trees. We can also fence in certain areas to protect aspen trees from wildlife grazing.
The extremely rare beetle species, Phryganophilus ruficollis, has been found in Tjäderberget Conservation Park close to Lycksele. The observation was made by a researcher from SLU last summer. The species has never been found in Västerbotten before and is classified as critically endangered.
There are white-backed woodpeckers nesting on SCA’s land in Västerbotten. This very rare woodpecker has stringent habitat requirements and SCA has taken several measures in the area to try and attract the bird. It seems those efforts have finally paid off.