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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 ...

Firewood

Firewood cutting — Photo: Lucas Foerster ecosystem that provides wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Selection harvesting requires careful planning, including consultation with professional foresters. Single Tree Selection System Under single tree selection, you can achieve a target basal area or density by removing individual trees from a range of size classes throughout the entire stand. Since you are creating small gaps, the size of one or two tree crowns in the canopy, single tree selection encourages the growth of shade-tolerant species such as maple, beech, ironwood, and hemlock. Generally, this system involves evaluating individual trees and targeting the removal of low quality, unhealthy trees, while promoting the growth of trees with desirable characteristics for timber, wildlife, seed production, or other landowner values. Often trees to be cut are marked with yellow or orange paint prior to harvesting. A good single tree selection prescription in combination with tree marking, and careful harvesting optimizes the growth and increases the quality of a woodlot over time. Group Selection System Group selection opens up the canopy more than single tree selection by removing trees in small patches. Gaps are created with diameters ranging from one to two times the canopy height to encourage the growth of mid-tolerant and intolerant tree species such as yellow birch, red oak, white ash, and black cherry. This creates a patchwork of openings embedded in a mature, uneven-aged forest. By placing your gaps near a seed tree or an existing natural gap you will enhance the regeneration of less shade-tolerant species. The intensity of group selection can range from very few scattered gaps to many group openings. Group selection can be used in isolation or in combination with single tree selection. By matching the volume of wood removed from a prescribed number of gaps based on size and distribution to the growth rate of the stand, foresters ensure the sustainability over the cutting cycle (the time until next harvest). Stand Improvement and Firewood Cutting Many woodlots suffer from a history of poor management or mismanagement through high-grading (harvesting the best quality timber), over cutting, grazing, maple syrup operations, and harvesting damage. Many woodlots contain trees that have health issues associated with weather, disease, insects, or past management regimes. This can create an accumulation of dead and declining trees and increased prevalence of fungal diseases such as root or heart rot. When this occurs, we recommend you focus your initial management on stand improvement thinning under the general direction of the selection system. This will improve the health, genetics, and vigour of the stand. We have provided further details on rehabilitating degraded woodlands on page 80. Group selection —Photo: Ken Elliott Firewood cutting — Photo: Eric Boysen 40 Forest Harvesting

Logging damage — Photo: Lucas Foerster Other landowners may have a more passive approach to management that involves regular removal of standing and fallen dead trees that accumulate. Often landowners see this removal of dead wood as a harmless way to “clean up” their woodlot. However, removing the supply of dead trees (snags), cavity trees, and downed wood is not a recognized silvicultural system, and can have negative consequences for wildlife habitat, and ecosystem health and function. Diameter-limit cut — Photo:Ken Elliott Diameter-limit Cutting Diameter-limit cutting is the most commonly used harvesting method in southern Ontario. This is due to a long history of use as a by-law regulation method and its simplicity for both enforcement and operations. Landowners often make use of diameter-limit cutting for short-term economic gains, threatening the long-term economic and ecological potential of the forest. Diameter-limit or circumference-limit cutting is not a recognized silvicultural system. It involves the removal of all trees in a forest larger than a specified diameter or circumference. If the diameter-limit chosen for a harvest is high (50 cm or more), then few trees may be cut and the resulting stand structure may be similar to that of a selection harvest. However, if the diameter-limit is small (25–30 cm), many trees would be cut and the resulting stand will have no large trees, a very open canopy, and will be more even-aged in structure. Heavy diameter-limit harvests can resemble high grading, removing only the biggest and best timber. Forest Conservation By-laws For the past 60 years, municipalities have used forest conservation by-laws, otherwise known as tree cutting bylaws, to regulate the cutting of forests on private land. Bylaws adopted diameter-limit cutting as a method of preventing the widespread practice of clear cutting forests. Most by-laws use diameter or circumference-limit targets as the minimum regulation tool. The by-law stipulates a specific diameter for each tree species. Land managers can only cut trees above this diameter. Municipalities see this by-law as a simple, easily enforced method of ensuring that forests remain on the landscape by preserving smaller, young trees as growing stock. While relatively easy and cheap to implement and enforce diameter-limits result in less financial return over the long term and fail to protect high quality wildlife habitat. Cutting according to good forestry practices is now being encouraged in various municipal by-laws, setting the stage for better management of our forest resources. This will maintain healthy forests on our landscapes to meet long-term ecological and economic goals. Photo: Lucas Foerster Forest Harvesting 41

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