Highlights: Moose damage was most common on aspen and least common on Scots pine; Damage to Scots pine increased when the amount of pine browse decreased, moose index and site index increased and when birch was overtopping pine; Damage to birch increased when moose index increased and damage to aspen increased when the amount of pine and birch browse decreased.
Moose browsing damage from the winter preceding the study (recent damage) on Scots pine, birch and aspen was examined in relation to forage availability, an index of moose population density and site productivity in young forests in the hemiboreal zone. Recent damage was observed for 4.1 ± 0.54% (mean ± SE; Scots pine), 16.8 ± 1.89% (birch) and 67.6 ± 13.76% (aspen) of the trees. A multiple regression with five independent variables explained 19% (Scots pine) 14% (birch) and 33% (aspen) of the variation in recent damage. Cover of Scots pine browse was the most important variable for predicting damage to Scots pine and accounted for 44% of the explained variation. When birch was overtopping pine there was a significant increase in damage to pine. Moose index was the only significant variable to explain recent damage to birch, and accounted for 64% of the explained variation. For aspen, damage was negatively correlated to coverage of Scots pine and birch browse, each variable accounting for 38% of the explained variation. For Scots pine, increasing the number of pines ha–1 and performing pre-commercial thinning in such a way that pines are not overtopped may be efficient ways of reducing damage proportions, whereas birch needs to be protected from moose (by a reduction of the moose population or otherwise) in order to escape damage. Increased amounts of Scots pine browse and birch browse may also reduce damage levels to aspen, according to this study.