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Oak woodland restoration improves forest health

Photo of Daniel Crockett, former employee on the London Ranger District, stands next to a 200 year-old white oak tree that was left following an oak woodland restoration treatment. Daniel Crockett, former employee on the London Ranger District, stands next to a 200 year-old white oak tree that was left following an oak woodland restoration treatment. Snapshot : Conversion of a closed canopy oak forest to an oak woodland improved forest health, according to a long-term study initiated on the Daniel Boone National Forest. Trees that remained following the restoration treatment had larger tree-ring growth and were more resilient to a recent drought compared to the trees that were removed.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Clark, Stacy 
Research Location : Daniel Boone National Forest, London Ranger District
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1318

Summary

Oak woodlands were historically more abundant and are the preferred habitat for many herbaceous and wildlife species. Efforts are underway to restore these important ecosystems on national forest lands across the Forest Service Southern Region. Oak woodlands are dominated by widely spaced, long-lived oak trees with a sparse understory and herbaceous ground flora. The Forest Service’s Southern Research Station initiated a large-scale study as part of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to investigate if specific silvicultural treatments could improve forest health and resilience. The researchers tested an oak woodland treatment as part of the study, selecting trees that had healthy crowns and occupied dominant canopy positions. Through examination of tree cores taken prior to the restoration treatment, the residual trees had improved growth across multiple decades and during drought periods prior to the restoration treatment, compared to trees that were removed. The results indicate that silviculture can be used to improve forest health and potentially increase resiliency to exotic invasive pests and drought.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Southern Region (R8)-Daniel Boone National Forest