Financial and Wildlife Benefits from Crop Tree Release in Pole-Sized Central Hardwood Oak Stands
We simulated growth and development from 481 plots within 21 even-aged, mixed hardwood stands (21‐35 years old) under no treatment and crop tree release (CTR) treatments using the new Central States Variant of the US Forest Service Forest Vegetation Simulator. We assumed a multiobjective approach focused on financial returns (timber production) and wildlife benefits (provision of species that produce hard mast) in crop tree selection. We compared simulation results by age class, site variables, and species groups. All age classes showed returns on investment (ROI) of 7.8% or greater, but stands 26‐35 years old exhibited greater net present values (NPVs). CTR treatments across site, as delineated by aspect and slope positions, also exhibited higher NPVs, with ROI of 8.4% or greater. North and east aspects yielded higher NPVs than south and west aspects within both no-thinning and CTR treatments, and no strong patterns of NPV or ROI emerged among slope positions. CTR treatment delayed financial maturity by 5‐10 years because of increased growth rates and assumed higher quality stems. Desirable overstory mast trees for wildlife habitat, primarily oaks (
Quercus spp.) and hickory ( Carya spp.), increased in importance value, and mortality of crop trees declined with CTR in all age classes. Simulated CTR treatments indicated potential benefits to enhance financial and wildlife forest values in even-aged, mixed hardwood stands.
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