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Managing Douglas-fir forests for diversity
Date:5/8/2009

PORTLAND, Ore. May 8, 2009. Creating diverse forests for multiple uses is important to natural resource managers and landowners. A study conducted in southwestern Oregon provides forest managers with information that offers choices when managing land for a variety objectives that may include a high level of wood production, a moderate level of wood production with some wildlife habitat features, or low wood production that provides cover and forage for a wider variety of wildlife species.

"Land managers need effective approaches for creating and modifying forest stand structures to satisfy a broad range of objectives," explains Tim Harrington, a research forester at the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station. "Silvicultural treatments can be used to shift competitive interactions between conifers and hardwoods to create the desired balance between wood production and wildlife habitat."

Harrington and John Tappeiner, an emeritus Oregon State University forestry professor, initiated a study in 1983 in southwestern Oregon on Douglas-fir plantations near Cave Junction and Glendale, Oregon. During the first phase of the study, when the plantations were 1 or 2 years old, a single herbicide treatment was used to reduce hardwood density to several levels. The Douglas-fir were thinned at age 15 to leave densities of 120 to 220 dominant trees per acre.

About 8 years later (ages 23 to 25), the scientists found that:

  • Three very different stand structures emerged.

    1. Highly productive, pure stands of Douglas-fir, 39 to 52 feet tall, occurred where hardwoods were completely removed at age 2 years.
    2. Where 25 percent of the original hardwood density was retained, moderately productive stands developed with two distinct canopy layers: Douglas-fir (39 feet tall) growing above hardwoods (23 feet tall).
    3. Where the original hardwood density was retained, Douglas-fir and hardwoods occupy the same canopy layer, 26
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Contact: Sherri Richardson Dodge
srichardsondodge@fs.fed.us
503-808-2137
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source:Eurekalert

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