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The Irregular Shelterwood System: Review, Classification, and Potential Application to Forests Affected by Partial Disturbances

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Structurally different from even-aged and balanced uneven-aged stands, irregular stands are an integral part of forested landscapes in northeastern North America. The maintenance or restoration of irregular stand structure may be desirable, especially in areas under ecosystem-based management. This can be achieved at the stand level through the implementation of irregular shelterwood systems. The objectives of this synthesis are to assemble the existing knowledge about the system, clarify the terminology in use, and discuss its place in silviculture in northeastern North America. Irregular shelterwood is compared with other regeneration methods and we propose a classification based on three variants. This silvicultural system is compatible with ecosystem-based management in forest types driven by partial stand mortality and gap dynamics and provides opportunities for maintaining old-growth forest attributes. However, it presents important challenges, especially with regards to planning, growth and yield prediction, and operational application.
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Keywords: ecosystem-based management; irregular shelterwood variants; irregular uneven-aged silviculture; multiaged stand; regeneration methods

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2009

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