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  Native forest silvicultural options



Most discussions about silviculture methods in native forests concentrate on harvesting options. Broadly speaking there is a range of options from individual tree selection through to total clearcutting. Harvesting option choices will be influenced by practical and economic considerations. But the environmental effects of each option are most important for achieving successful regeneration, and minimising the effect on other environmental, social and economic values.

In Ross Florence’s book
Ecology and Silviculture of Eucalypt Forests, the effect of native forest harvesting on regeneration is shown in a graph from Smith (1962). The graph shows the relationship between the percentage of the tree canopy removed and the environmental factors that are likely to influence regeneration. Depending on the species mix that the landowner wishes to, or must, regenerate, it is possible to define an appropriate harvesting intensity that ensures sufficient seed for regeneration and provides an environment that supports vigorous growth.


This graph illustrates some of the environmental effects of different silvicultural systems—including clearfelling, clearfelling with seed trees, shelterwood, selection. From Smith, D.M. (1962) The Practice of Silviculture, 7th edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York

An immature forest can be managed for timber production through selective thinning, either for commercial return or as a culling to waste, and possibly pruning. Thought should also be given to the management of exotic weeds, fire protection and vermin. Selective thinning can:

• reduce competition between trees
• encourage diameter growth
• increase light levels for the understorey and can be an important means of increasing understorey diversity
• encourage regeneration of shade tolerant species
• contribute to economic production from grazing or harvesting non-timber products such as flowers or bush foods.

Thinning can be done using a chainsaw, brush cutter or by stem injection of herbicide.




Landowners are encouraged to find out what permits, if any, are required, before undertaking native forest silvicultural operations. It is also important to thoroughly assess the forest before developing a management plan. This might include assessing the:

• tree and understorey species, and their size and distribution
* seed loads held in the canopies
* wildlife species present
* soil erosion hazards.

Developing an understanding of a forest’s ecology and dynamics of the forest is important for developing effective management options. It can also greatly enhance the owner’s appreciation and enjoyment of their forest.


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