Northern Forest Ecology & Silviculture Video Mini-Set
These two technical presentations from the 2014 SAF National Convention, in Salt Lake City, UT, include 45 minutes of recorded content.
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Introducing Structural Complexity in Red Pine Plantations
Presented by Shawn Hagan, The Forestland Group, LLC
Stands of red pine (Pinus resinosa) in the Lake States are intensively managed through practices that promote homogeneity of growing space. Although stand conditions vary, the site preparation and stand improvement treatments associated with plantation management may limit wildlife habitat structure by eliminating competing vegetation, snags and poorly-formed trees, downed woody debris (DWD), and understory species. Although previous research has demonstrated compatibility of intensive forest practices with many wildlife species, the increasing intensity of pine management in the Great Lakes region may present potential conflicts between timber production and maintenance of biological diversity. For example, DWD resulting from pre-commercial and commercial thinning of pine plantations is increasingly targeted for biomass removal, further reducing the structural diversity of plantations. Therefore, identifying practical methods for improving the wildlife habitat potential of intensively managed pine stands is needed. The objective of this study is to determine if avian and small mammal communities in northern Wisconsin red pine stands respond to treatments that maintain and create structural heterogeneity. Six stands were thinned according to a conventional 3rd or 5th row removal treatment, in which slash was scattered in the thinned strips. Another six stands were thinned using diagonal cutting lanes and thinned selectively between these corridors. Some of the slash in these stands was aggregated in piles at an approximate density of one per two acres. Small mammal trapping and point count surveys for birds were used to compare site occupancy between the two treatments.
Natural Models for Restorative Silviculture in the Great Lakes Pine Forest: Evidence and Implementation
Presented by Brian Palik, USDA Forest Service
The Great Lakes mixed-pine forest is reduced in area, tree diversity, structural complexity, and spatial heterogeneity compared to the historical condition. The latter was characterized by complex age structure, mixed-species composition, abundant dead wood, and structural heterogeneity. There is interest in restoring complex structure and composition in ways that reflect the natural range of variation for this ecosystem, but there is little experience with this type of silviculture. We have partnered with the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota to explore, implement, and evaluate operational approaches to enhance structural complexity and compositional diversity in this regionally important ecosystem, using silviculture based on natural models of disturbance and stand development. Approaches include i) retention harvesting to create two-cohort structure, ii) mixed-species planting to restore diversity, iii) variable density thinning to accelerate development of heterogeneity, iv) shrub control to emulate low intensity surface fires, and iv) extended recovery periods between harvests to facilitate development of large trees. An extensive suite of ecosystem variables are monitored in these projects, including tree productivity, plant and bird communities, tree regeneration, and disease patterns. Several lessons have been learned from operational implementation, including i) treatments designed to create structural heterogeneity at one spatial scale can result in simplified, homogeneous structure at other scales, suggesting the need for multi-scale silvicultural planning, ii) a greater focus should be put on timber quality rather than quantity, because volume production will likely be reduced, and iii) patience and practice are required to gain experience with non-standard marking and harvesting.
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