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Uneven-Aged Management: Is It Sustainable

Photo of Compartment 8C on the Fernow Experimental Forest has been harvested seven times since 1948 using uneven-aged management  and continues to be a productive stand. Richard Hovatter, USDA Forest ServiceCompartment 8C on the Fernow Experimental Forest has been harvested seven times since 1948 using uneven-aged management and continues to be a productive stand. Richard Hovatter, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : A century ago, after almost all of the old-growth forests in the eastern United States had been harvested, forest managers turned to Europe for guidance on forest management. European-trained foresters were advancing the concept of uneven-aged management, which involved periodic removal of trees from all size classes to mimic the patterns of older, unmanaged forests. The uneven-aged management style has been studied on the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia for the past six decades and Forest Service scientists have recently synthesized the results and continue to inform our understanding of how forests grow.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Schuler, Thomas M.  
Research Location : Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 627

Summary

In North America, interest in uneven-aged management grew in the second-half of the 20th Century after most of the old-growth forests had been harvested. In the uneven-aged management style, trees from all size classes are periodically removed to mimic the patterns of older, unmanaged forests. To investigate this management style, Forest Service scientists set up long-term experiments on the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia. In the ensuing half-century, almost all of foresters' original beliefs about forest management were partially or wholly invalidated. Findings from the Fernow Experimental Forest illustrate that the original value-laden assumptions were faulty and there is a need to test commonly held beliefs. Long-term forest research data also have many useful benefits: What were originally experiments in silviculture for sustained yield of forest products now yield information about carbon storage, forest restoration, wildlife habitat, rare species, water quality, and forest response to climate change.