Forest harvesting is the main driver of habitat degradation and biodiversity loss in forests of the boreal zone. To mitigate harmful effects, small-scale habitats with high biodiversity values have been protected within production forests. These include woodland key habitats, and other small-scale habitat patches protected by voluntary conservation action. This article describes a protocol for a systematic review to synthesize the value of small habitat patches left within production landscapes for biodiversity. The topic for this systematic review arose from a discussion with the Finnish forestry sector and was further defined in a stakeholder workshop. Research question: Do small protected habitat patches within production forests provide value for biodiversity conservation in boreal forests? Animal, plant and fungal diversities are addressed as well as the amount of deadwood within the habitat patches as proxy indicators for biodiversity.
The literature, both peer-reviewed and grey, will be searched from bibliographical databases, organizational websites and internet search engines in English, Finnish, Swedish and Russian. Article screening will be done at two stages (title/abstract and full-text). The validity of the studies included will be evaluated against validity criteria and studies will be categorized based on their risk of bias. To describe the findings a narrative synthesis will be conducted. If there is enough quantitative data retrieved from the studies, a meta-analysis will be conducted.