5: Woodland Improvement Practices – Activity

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How this helps you:

This activity focuses on ways to improve existing stands of trees to meet your objectives for woodland health, timber production, wildlife habitat, and visual quality. There are many small steps you can take using simple, inexpensive equipment that will improve seedling survival, tree species composition, stand density, tree quality, and tree growth rate.

Step 1: Select a Stand on Which to Focus

  • Step 1A: Review your written woodland management plan. The plan should include stand-by-stand descriptions, complete with inventory data and management recommendations. Those recommendations should guide your thinking in this section.

  • Step 1B: Choose one stand on which to focus.

  • Step 1C: Determine which tree size class is typical of that stand and click on the appropriate link below:



Option 1: Seedling Stands

Step 2: Develop a Plan for Managing a Seedling Stand

  • Step 2A: Read the section on Seedling Stands (Adobe PDF icon PDF, page 46-47)

  • Step 2B: Decide your objectives for the stand. Typical objectives in a seedling stand are to:

    • Improve seedling survival.
    • Improve seedling growth rate.
    • Protect seedlings from browsing animals or large livestock.
  • Step 2C: Identify one or more woodland improvement practices appropriate for your woodland based on your objectives, e.g.,

    • Hoeing.
    • Mulching.
    • Mowing.
    • Cultivating.
    • Herbicide.
    • Tree shelters.
    • Protect seedlings in or near a timber harvest.
    • Budcapping (for protection from deer).
    • Animal repellents to prevent browsing.
    • Corrective pruning (Adobe PDF icon PDF, page 51)
  • Step 2D: Write a brief plan for your stand:

    • Stand name or number from your woodland management plan.
    • Species that you plan to favor and their physical attributes.
    • Trees that will be removed and their attributes.
    • Equipment needed to complete the practice.
    • A brief description of your practice. For example: “Use brush saw to remove all competing vegetation within 2 feet of each bur oak seedling. Apply plastic tree shelter after treatment, making sure to secure it snugly to the ground to prevent winter rodent damage.”
  • Step 2E: Share your written treatment plan with a local forester for their advice. A local professional can give you specific advice about equipment, tree species growth, and many other factors that may make a big difference to the outcome.

Return to tree size class list



Option 2: Sapling and Poletimber Stands

Step 2: Develop a Plan for Managing a Sapling and Poletimber Stand

  • Step 2A: Read the section on Sapling and Poletimber Stands (Adobe PDF icon PDF, pages 47 – 49)

  • Step 2B: In poletimber stands, focus your management on identifying potential crop trees and encouraging their growth. Refer to stand-by-stand recommendations in your written woodland management plan as a guide for planning woodland improvement practices.

  • Step 2C: Decide your objectives for the stand. Typical objectives in sapling and poletimber stands are to:

    • Improve species composition
    • Control stand density.
    • Improve tree quality.
    • Increase tree growth rate.
    • Harvest trees before they die.
  • Step 2D: Identify one or more woodland improvement practices appropriate for your woodland based on your objectives, e.g.,

    • Remove weed trees (undesirable species)
    • Remove cull trees (those with little or no commercial value because of damage)
    • Thin dense stands to improve the growth rate of residual trees
    • Clear-stem pruning to improve wood quality as the tree grows (Adobe PDF icon PDF, page 51)
      Figure 5-1 may help you visualize changes to your woodland (Adobe PDF icon PDF, page 48)

      Figure 5-1. Timber stand improvement for fast growth and valuable wood products
  • Step 2E: Determine which trees should be killed and which should be left in the stand after woodland improvement and write down their attributes (e.g., species, spacing, health).

    For general woodland health, consider these options and others:
    • Refer to recommendations in your management plan.
    • Retain tree species best suited for your site.
    • Retain a diversity of tree species as a hedge against serious pest problems.
    • Remove trees with serious insect and disease problems.
    • Remove trees with severe damage to bark or crowns.
    • Thin the stand to sustain vigorous growth on the best trees, thereby helping them resist insects, diseases, and weather extremes.
    • Remove invasive, exotic species that may take over the stand and suppress the regeneration and growth of desirable native species.
    If timber production is your goal, consider these options and others:
    • Determine what products you wish to grow (e.g., fuelwood, pulpwood, sawtimber, veneer)
    • Learn what tree species, size, and wood quality are required for those products.
    • During woodland improvement, encourage growth of potential crop trees that:
      • Are desirable species in the marketplace.
      • Have tall, straight stems.
      • Have few branches on the main stem.
      • Have healthy crowns in dominant or codominant positions in the canopy.
      • Are relatively free of insect and disease problems.
      • Show no signs of bark damage or wood decay.
    • Thin stump sprouts on desirable species when they are 3 to 5 years old.
    • Thin sapling stems with a motorized brush saw, leaving 1-inch diameter stems 3 feet apart.
    • When thinning dense sapling stands and small pole-sized stands, consider removing whole rows or swaths of trees.
    • In stands with pole-sized trees, selectively harvest, leaving the best and largest crop trees in dominant or codominant positions in the canopy.
    If wildlife habitat is your goal, consider these options and others:
    • Remove trees or prune off lower branches to provide a pleasing vista.
    • Save trees with beautiful flowers, fall leaf color, or interesting bark.
    • Protect trees with interesting shapes.
    • Save large trees.
    • Encourage species diversity, especially a mix of hardwoods and conifers.
  • Step 2F: Write a brief plan for your stand:

    • Stand name or number from your woodland management plan.
    • Species that you plan to favor and their physical attributes.
    • Trees that will be removed and their attributes.
    • Equipment needed to complete the treatment.
    • A brief description of your treatment. For example: “Remove all boxelder and ironwood stems that are near enough to compete with oaks. Cut any trees that compete with established white pine seedlings. Treat cut stumps with a chemical herbicide to prevent sprouting.”
  • Step 2G: Share your written treatment plan with a local forester for their advice. A local professional can give you specific advice about equipment, tree species growth, and many other factors that may make a big difference to the outcome.

Return to tree size class list



Option 3: Sawtimber Stands

Step 2: Develop a Plan for Managing a Sawtimber Stand

  • Step 2A: Read the section on Sawtimber Stands (Adobe PDF icon PDF, pages 49 – 50).

  • Step 2B: Determine your objectives for a sawtimber stand. Typical objectives are to:

    • Improve species composition.
    • Control stand density.
    • Improve tree quality.
    • Increase tree growth rate.
    • Harvest trees for commercial use before they die.
  • Step 2C: Identify one or more woodland improvement practices appropriate for your woodland based on your objectives, e.g.,

    • Remove weed trees (undesirable species).
    • Remove cull trees (those with little or no commercial value because of damage).
    • Thin dense stands to improve the growth rate of residual trees. Figure 5-1 may help you visualize changes to your woodland (Adobe PDF icon PDF, page 48).
      Figure 5-1. Timber stand improvement for fast growth and valuable wood products
  • Step 2D: Commercial thinning is the principal improvement practice in sawtimber stands, but it also may be important to remove undesirable species that are not merchantable so as to remove their seed source. In most cases, the treatment should be executed by a professional, both because of the specialized skill and equipment involved and to preserve the value of the residual trees. Damage to the crop trees left on site will permanently and seriously degrade their value, and must be minimized.

  • Step 2E: Determine which trees should be killed and which should be left in the stand after woodland improvement and write down their attributes (e.g., species, spacing, health).

    For general woodland health, consider these options and others:
    • Refer to recommendations in your management plan.
    • Retain tree species best suited for your site.
    • Retain a diversity of tree species as a hedge against serious pest problems.
    • Remove trees with serious insect and disease problems.
    • Remove trees with severe damage to bark or crowns.
    • Thin the stand to sustain vigorous growth on the best trees, thereby helping them resist insects, diseases, and weather extremes.
    • Remove invasive, exotic species that may take over the stand and suppress the regeneration and growth of desirable native species.
    If timber production is your goal, consider these options and others:
    • Determine what products you wish to grow (e.g., fuelwood, pulpwood, sawtimber, veneer)
    • Learn what tree species, size, and wood quality are required for those products.
    • During woodland improvement, encourage growth of potential crop trees that:
      • Are desirable species in the marketplace.
      • Have tall, straight stems.
      • Have few branches on the main stem.
      • Have healthy crowns in dominant or codominant positions in the canopy.
      • Are relatively free of insect and disease problems.
      • Show no signs of bark damage or wood decay.
    • Selectively harvest to leave the best and largest crop trees in dominant or codominant positions in the canopy.
    If wildlife habitat is your goal, consider these options and others:
    • Decide which wildlife species or groups of species you want to encourage.
    • Learn about their habitat needs (See Chapter 11: Wildlife and Forest Management) (PDF, page 127) and Links and References.
    • Use woodland improvement to create appropriate habitat for:
      • Food.
      • Shelter.
      • Escape cover.
      • Breeding sites.
      • Nesting sites
    If visual quality is your goal, consider these options and others:
    • Remove trees or prune off lower branches to provide a pleasing vista.
    • Save trees with beautiful flowers, fall leaf color, or interesting bark.
    • Protect trees with interesting shapes.
    • Save large trees.
    • Encourage species diversity, especially a mix of hardwoods and conifers.
  • Step 2F: Write a brief plan for your stand:

    • Stand name or number from your woodland management plan.
    • Species that you plan to favor and their physical attributes.
    • Trees that will be removed and their attributes.
    • Equipment needed to complete the treatment.
    • A brief description of your treatment. For example: cut down or girdle all boxelder stems that compete with more desirable species. Treat girdles and cut stumps with a chemical herbicide to prevent sprouting.
  • Step 2G: Share your written treatment plan with a local forester for their advice. A local professional can give you specific advice about equipment, tree species growth, and many other factors that may make a big difference to the outcome.

Return to tree size class list


 

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