Controls and Reference Conditions in Forestry: The Role of Old-Growth and Retrospective Studies

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Forest stands that experience only natural disturbance can serve as controls to provide a scientific basis for comparison with harvested forests to help determine when harvesting has been done in a sustainable manner. Primary stands can serve as references for silvicultural trials that attempt to mimic the primary forest structural attributes on shorter time scales of a few decades. At the landscape scale, retrospective techniques can be used to examine proportion and variation in proportion of stands among structural and successional stages expected under the natural disturbance regime. These analyses are referred to as range of natural variation and serve as landscape-scale reference conditions for comparison with the managed forest landscape.

Keywords: Minnesota; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; northern hardwoods; spruce-fir-birch

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Director Department of Forest Resources University of Minnesota Center for Hardwood Ecology 1530 Cleveland Avenue N St. Paul MN 55108, Email: 2: Director of Conservation Science The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota and the Dakotas 1101 West River Parkway Minneapolis MN 55415, Email: 3: Forest Ecologist The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota 394 Lake Avenue S Duluth MN 55802 mark_, Email:

Publication date: October 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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