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Maturity Selection versus Improvement Selection: Lessons from a Mid-20th Century Controversy in the Silviculture of Ponderosa Pine

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Two rival silvicultural systems for promoting multiaged ponderosa pine stands emerged in the 1930s and 1940s. Maturity selection was developed to move the vast ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) acreage in eastern Oregon and Washington into regulation to limit bark beetle losses. In the Southwest, improvement selection was designed to improve residual growing stock by making stands less susceptible to wind, lightening, and dwarf mistletoe. The primary difference between the systems was the treatment of undesirable smaller trees. Maturity selection tended to ignore them whereas improvement selection removed them. Improvement selection appeared to place a greater emphasis on the future whereas maturity selection focused more on current economic values. The controversy subsided by 1960 because of increased interest in even-aged systems. Although these systems have largely been forgotten, they provide interesting insights to the current trend of increased use of multiaged systems. Both systems involved greater volume removals at longer cutting cycles than current systems.
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Keywords: Pinus ponderosa; multiaged; silviculture; single tree selection; uneven-aged

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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  • 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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