Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Woodlot Management & Tree Selection

The final 2011 Nature Quest Workshop was held on July 26th at the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre. Stewardship Coordinator, Chris Near, from the Parry Sound Muskoka Stewardship Network (PSMSN) led the session about Silviculture.

What is Silviculture?

Simply put, silviculture is the science of growing trees. If you are a woodlot owner, chances are you will want to think about which silviculture method you would like to practice in your woodlot. You may even end up practicing more than one depending on the size and features of your property. Chris spoke to the group about three methods for growing, harvesting, and regenerating trees: clearcutting, selection, and shelterwood.

Plantations, such as the red pine plantation pictured above, require good forest management, including proper thinning, top reach their full potential. Red pine prefers dry locations and grows best on sandy, coarse loam soil which is well drained. Research has shown that as red pine plantations mature, they begin to transform old field sites into forest conditions. The increase in organic material in the soil from the needles helps prevent erosion from wind and water. As the stand is thinned, the increase of sunlight reaching the forest floor provides ideal conditions for native hardwood and conifer species to germinate and grow.

About 50 bird and mammal species depend on cavity trees, including primary users which make their own cavities. Cavities constructed by the pileated woodpecker (like the ones above) are especially important in providing habitat for other animals. Aim to keep six living cavity trees per hectare in our woodlot.

If you are planning a large cutting operation on a large woodlot, be sure to consider how the logging equipment will get in and out of your woodlot. There is the potential for damage if not thought out properly. Some landowners will use the trails made by the skidders and other logging equipment and convert them into trails for personal use after the logging is finished (like in the photo above)

Creating openings in the forest crown provides benefits to regeneration. You might consider planting seedlings in an opening to promote greater species variety. Make sure to consider species types and their shade tolerance and plan for maintenance of the area if necessary to maintain sunlight in the area.

Bracebridge Resource Management Centre (BRMC) is a great place to visit to see the different aspects of forest management. It is indeed a managed forest where the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has managed different parts of the forest there in different ways and to regenerate the forest using different methods. If you get a chance to visit, make sure to stop at the signs like to one above to learn about various aspects of silviculture.

More Information

There is a lot to consider when managing a forest or woodlot. Be sure to seek out good information and reliable professionals. Some resources to get you started:

  1. A Landowner's Guide to Forest Management Basics call me or drop in at the office to receive this resource

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