Habitat And Timber Management

Timber Management

Q:   Should I manage my woodlot for the benefit of the deer, or should I try to do what is best from a timber standpoint?

A:   Yes.

 

Q:   Huh?

A:   There is no need to sacrifice one for the other. There are management techniques that benefit both. In fact, in a hardwood forest, most times what is good for one is good for the other. Wildlife benefits from a healthy timber stand, one with trees of varying ages enjoying rapid growth. A stand with a lot of young growth has much more to offer in the form of browse and cover than one with only mature trees, and will therefore support many more deer.

 

Q:   Isn’t the healthiest timber stand the one that holds the maximum number of large trees?

A:   Absolutely not! If the stand is overcrowded with mature trees, the growth of the next generation is inhibited, or they may not even reseed at all. Maximum production in a stand is acheived through the judicious removal of some trees to the benefit of others.

 

Q:   How do I know which trees should be cut?

A:   Although the specifics are too extensive to cover here, the overall goal is to remove the trees that are hindering more growth by other trees than they are producing themselves. While it is possible for any landowner to educate himself and do this on his or her own, most times it is beneficial to have professional guidance on which trees to cut.

 

Q:   But the idea of turning a logger loose in my woods scares me. Won’t they tear it up and leave it a mess?

A:   There is no denying that some loggers do a lot of damage. But there are also loggers out there who take pride in their work and go out of their way to minimize the impact of a harvesting operation. You need to do your homework. Ask loggers for references. If they do good work, they will have satisfied landowners like yourself willing to tell you about it.

 

Q:   How do deer benefit from a timber harvest?

A:   As mature trees are removed, the canopy is opened to allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor. The additional sunlight allows the understory, the young trees and other plants, to flourish, turning the woods into deer heaven. Deer need the browse and cover that the understory provides.

 

Q:   Is clear-cutting ever a good forestry practice?

A:   Clear cutting makes sense in an area containing only low-value trees, and to encourage oak trees to reseed. Oaks are not shade tolerant, and as a result of the focus on selective harvesting over the years many woodlots have a higher percentage of the more shade tolerant species, such as maple. Clear-cutting small areas, say half an acre, allows sufficient sunlight to reach the ground to allow the oaks to reseed and the result is more diversity in the stand. Clear-cutting or hinge-cutting also provides an instant bedding area and abundant browse for the deer. A chain saw can be a deer’s-and your timber stand’s-best friend.

 

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