No Signifigant Losses of Stand Productivity From Whole-tree Harvesting and Clearcutting in New England Forests
Concerns over clearcutting and, more recently, whole-tree harvesting in New England have existed since the late 1960s. Published studies have raised the possibility of soil nutrient depletion and losses of forest productivity due to accelerated soil leaching and the removal of nutrients in the harvested trees. However, clearcutting and whole-tree harvesting are efficient, appropriate in decadent stands, and useful in providing habitat for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species. Even an aggressive whole-tree harvest leaves 10 percent or more of woody material on site. Studies in New Hampshire and Maine found no significant losses of essential nutrients and stand productivity following clearcutting or whole-tree harvests. These findings were summarized in a University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Forestry Field Note and presented at silvicultural and wildlife workshops on the Bartlett Experimental Forest in New Hampshire. Managers should still take precautions. Repeated harvests at short intervals ( 20-40 years) could produce some level of nutrient depletion. Certain wildlife species need some woody material left on site, and it may help reduce browsing by deer and moose. - Lastly, it is important to be sensitive to concerns of landowners and visitors about appearances; uncut buffers and reserved blocks of timber can help harvested areas be less obtrusive.
Forest Service Partners