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Potential Yields and Economic Returns of Natural Disturbance-Based Silviculture: A Case Study from the Acadian Forest Ecosystem Research Program

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Intrastand variability is promoted by many silvicultural systems designed to emulate natural disturbance regimes (natural disturbance-based silviculture [NDBS] systems) in the eastern United States and Canada but this variability is difficult to model in many growth-and-yield models, limiting application by the region's forest managers. We used a resampling approach to integrate intrastand variability into Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) growth-and-yield projections. We subsequently compared potential yield and financial returns over a 100-year period for two NDBS systems monitored in the Acadian Forest Ecosystem Research Program with two conventional systems: a two-stage uniform shelterwood and a single-tree selection system. NDBS systems produced the widest diameter distribution at the end of the harvest rotation and were more effective in recruiting large trees (>24 in.) and more diverse species relative to conventional silviculture systems. Projected merchantable yield and financial return were highest for the single-tree selection, followed by the two NDBS systems and finally the shelterwood; however, if standing merchantable value at the end of simulation was included, the NDBS systems ranked first and third overall financially. Our analysis suggests that NDBS systems are capable of sustaining a greater diversity in forest structure and composition while producing volume yields and financial returns that are competitive with conventional even- and uneven-aged silvicultural systems.

Keywords: Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS); expanding gap; growth and yield; irregular shelterwood; natural disturbance-based silviculture; single-tree selection; uneven-aged management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 2, 2013

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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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