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Toward Understanding Economic and Ecological Outcomes of Selection Silviculture of Northern Hardwoods in New England

Sinacore, Katherine, Howard, Theodore
Journal of sustainable forestry 2015 v.34 no.4 pp. 319-342
biodiversity, data collection, forests, hardwood, harvesting, inventories, silviculture, trees, wood quality, New England region, New Hampshire
Single-tree and small-group selection silviculture are widely used uneven-age management regimes in the northeastern United States to create structural diversity and provide high quality timber. However, analysis of long-term performance of these systems is uncommon, largely due to limited access to long-term data sets in the region. The Bartlett Experimental Forest, one of the few permanent experimental research sites in the region, offers a rare opportunity to investigate effects of management practices over 60 yr. Modern forestry seeks both economic and ecological goals, and typically entails harvesting to promote growth and regeneration of commercially valuable trees while creating structural and biological diversity. Comparatively little attention has been given to whether silvicultural treatments can sustainably achieve these goals over many harvests and rotations. We examined two selection silviculture techniques and an unmanaged site in New Hampshire to assess tree quality changes by comparing tree grades over 60 yr. We also measured a one-time inventory of downed-woody debris abundances, an important contributor to ecological diversity. We found that tree grades improved over 60 yr of management and differences among abundances of downed wood between sites. We conclude that selection silviculture has the potential to influence tree quality and ecological diversity.