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A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

Feller buncher —

Feller buncher — Photo: Ken Elliott Even-aged Management In even-aged forests, all dominant trees are essentially the same age (usually within 10 years). Even-aged management involves removing all mature trees either in a single cut (clear cut) or with multiple partial cuts (shelterwood harvesting). It is most appropriate for the regeneration of sun-loving species like oak, pine, and poplar (see Shade and Moisture Tolerance of Various Tree Species on pages 36–37). The clear cut system mimics natural, but infrequent major disturbances like wind and fire, which create large gaps in the forest where species intolerant of shade can grow. The shelterwood system is advantageous for species that are able to survive less intense, frequent disturbances such as ground fires that kill competition. These frequent low intensity burns actually build a bigger, healthy root mass in species like red oak, allowing it to re-sprout and grow vigorously. Occasionally managers use shelterwood harvesting in parts of southern Ontario where oak and pine forests dominate. However, clear cutting is rarely used in this part of the province, although silviculturally appropriate in some cases. Clear Cut System In a clear cut system, you remove all the mature trees in one cutting operation. Regeneration can occur naturally by windborne seeds from nearby areas, seed banks, seeds from mature trees left on site, re-sprouting from stumps, (coppice growth), sprouting roots, or through human assisted seeding and planting. Clear cut harvests favour shade-intolerant species that need full sunlight to grow such as red pine, poplar, cedar, and white birch. In Ontario, clear cutting is most suitable for boreal forests that have evolved under large-scale catastrophic disturbances like fire and insect infestations. Although appropriate for some southern Ontario forest types, municipal by-laws, cultural, aesthetic, and environmental concerns over the last 25 years have virtually eliminated the use of clear cutting. Shelterwood System The shelterwood system involves a series of two or more partial cuts that systematically remove all but a few mature trees from a stand over a 5–60 year period. Tree cutting stimulates growth by increasing light levels, while a partial canopy provides seed and shelters new seedlings from the severe open environment (sun, heat, and frost). In a preparatory cut, you thin the stand giving selected trees room to grow large crowns. If sufficient trees with large crowns are already present then the manager may omit this cut. In the seed or regeneration cut about half the mature trees are removed allowing sunlight and seed to reach the floor and stimulate the germination and growth of seedlings. Once a dense layer of saplings has established (3–15 years), you would Clearcut — Photo: Lindsay MacLean Abbott Red oak shelterwood cut — Photo: Scott Reid 38 Forest Harvesting

Photo: Lucas Foerster normally perform a removal cut to harvest most of the remaining mature trees. This gives the sapling layer full sunlight and encourages rapid growth. There can be two removal cuts separated by a number of years. Crop Tree Management Crop tree management is useful for those interested in thinning younger, often even-aged forests. This technique focuses on retaining the trees (called crop trees) with the best long-term potential early in the life of the stand. Typically, the selected trees are healthy and vigorous to promote good growth and long-term survival. However, crop trees may be retained for other objectives such as: to promote species diversity, provide wildlife trees, increase seed (mast) production, provide specialty crops (maple syrup), wood products (veneer, sawlogs, utility poles, etc.), or for aesthetics. Once crop trees are selected (often identified with blue paint) trees that have crowns touching or overlapping these trees are removed. This provides optimum growing space for the crop trees and directs management towards these individual trees that have the greatest potential to meet longer term objectives. Additional thinning is usually conducted once the crowns close to maintain growth on the crop trees. Uneven-aged Management Uneven-aged management or the selection system creates or maintains a stand of predominantly shade-tolerant and midtolerant species where trees of all ages and sizes make up the stand. The forest canopy is kept intact as individual trees (single tree selection), or small patches of trees (group selection) are removed. Ideally, each harvest removes a third or less wood volume or basal area (defined as tree density—see Basal Area below), and thinning is distributed across trees in all size classes. This allows for improvement in quality and growth across all ages. Selection harvesting is well suited to most deciduous hardwood forests of southern Ontario. It is designed to mimic the frequent, small-scale disturbances such as wind, ice storm, lightning, fire, or disease under which the hardwood forests of eastern North America historically evolved. Periodic harvesting, on an 8–20 year cutting cycle, allows a steady supply of wood products, while maintaining a structurally diverse forest Basal Area Basal area (BA) is the combined total of cross-sectional areas of all trees at breast height (1.3 m above ground) per hectare of forest (metres squared per hectare [m 2 /ha]). It is an index of the number and size of trees in a stand, and used by foresters and ecologists to estimate the volume and density of a stand to help determine whether another harvest or thinning is appropriate. Basal area is a major stand attribute influencing which species of birds are present, their density, and their productivity. As large trees contribute proportionately more toward stand basal area measures, stands with high basal areas, will often support higher densities of large mature trees. For stands in southern Ontario, retaining an average basal area of 20 m 2 /ha with trees representative of all age classes is generally recommended for optimal growth. A wedge prism is a tool commonly used to assess basal area. By taking multiple estimates of BA at various points throughout a stand, a manager can get an estimate of the overall stand BA. Marking under single-tree selection — Photo: Ken Elliott Wedge prisms — Photo: OMNR Forest Harvesting 39

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