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Scientists Investigate the Influence of Markets and Forest Management on Small-diameter Hardwood

Photo of Hardwood logs at a harvest site in northern Wisconsin. Bumgardner, Matthew, USDA Forest ServiceHardwood logs at a harvest site in northern Wisconsin. Bumgardner, Matthew, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Despite the potential silvicultural advantages of removing some small-diameter trees during timber harvests, activities such as diameter-limit cutting remain somewhat common in hardwood forests. A lack of markets is often cited as a major cause, leading to research toward development of new production and marketing systems. But the absence of pre-harvest planning with involvement of a professional forester can play an important role in utilization as well. A recent study assessed the influence that markets and forest management were playing in a case setting where both were present to varying degrees.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bumgardner, MatthewWiedenbeck, Janice (Jan) K.
Research Location : Wisconsin
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 480


Utilization of small-diameter timber is thought to be hindered by a lack of markets across many hardwood regions in the United States, even though treatment of such material could improve stand conditions and economic return for landowners. However, without involvement of sound forest management in harvest planning, these potential benefits might not be apparent. Forest Service researchers, working with the University of Wisconsin assessed the role of markets and management in a case setting in north-central Wisconsin. Thirty-six harvest sites were visited across three ownership types (managed county-owned forests, managed private forests, and unmanaged private forests) and two locations with different market conditions (county groupings) to characterize the timber being removed. Results indicated that markets were clearly important, with locations closer to pulpwood/biomass-using markets exhibiting smaller post-harvest stump diameters, suggesting that some smaller trees were being removed. However, management was a significant factor as well, with the unmanaged private forests exhibiting the largest post-harvest stump and top diameters, suggesting that smaller trees were not being tended (or utilized) to the same extent as on managed lands. This pattern was evident across market locations. Results from this study found that utilization is enhanced when both markets and forest management are present.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Scott Bowe, University of Wisconsin, Madison