Definitions - Silviculture Program

Fundamentals of ecological silviculture

  • Information is organized about native plant communities. The reason that we would do this is that the potential forest states (composition and structure) and tree autecology are different from one NPC to another. Note that this is a significant departure from the traditional species-organized guides, where we begin with the assumption that all, say, white pine trees behave the same throughout the range in North America and then deal with departures from normal behavior by citing local studies and using site index and soil variation as a surrogate for ECS. The consequence is that we must rely on ecological and mensurational data that we can assign to a NPC.
  • Current stand conditions and growth stage are the basic field observations that will direct foresters to a set of appropriate management opportunities and limitations. The reason that we would do this is to recognize natural stand momentum and the, silvicultural opportunities that require the least amount of intervention and investment to achieve a desired future condition. Note that this is a departure from inventory-reliant decision making at the planning stage because it emphasizes a more adaptive approach based upon field assessment and flexibility. The consequence is that field foresters will bear greater responsibility meeting plan goals and need ecological field skills.
  • Biotic legacy is a documented consideration in all prescriptions. The reason that we would do this is to focus attention on the future forest and on silvicultural activities beyond commercial harvest. In addition to the importance of legacies for maintaining ecological function, we envision legacies as a means of corrective action when a stand for whatever reason can't be manipulated to achieve a desired future condition as set forth in the plan and within the ecological capacity of the forest community.
  • Soil, nutrient, and hydrologic site limitations is based upon our understanding of the ecology of native plant communities. The reason that we would do this is that limiting conditions are not always evident or uniformly distributed across forest sites. Plants and soils indicate conditions spatially and integrate conditions over time that are often not observable in a single site visit.

Stand structure definition

"Stand structure is the physical and temporal distribution of trees and other plants in a stand" (Oliver and Larson 1996). Understanding of the structural dynamics must take into account the silvical characteristics of the individual species and the ecological relationships that integrate the species mix to the site. Due to the dynamic nature of forest ecosystems, the silviculturist must account for growth and ecological changes to design a long-term vision for the stand structure over the life of the stand.

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