Height:Diameter Ratios and Stability Relationships for Four Northern Rocky Mountain Tree Species

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Ratios of tree height to diameter have been used to predict susceptibility to storm damage for many years. In this study, individual trees damaged by recent snow and wind events in western Montana were sampled in 1997 and 1998 to determine their height:diameter ratios in comparison to nearby undamaged trees. Four species were sampled: ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), western larch (Larix occidentalis), interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca), and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia). Ratios of 80:1 (both measures in equal units) provided a stability threshold for all four species. Trees with higher ratios were more prone to damage than trees with lower ratios. Height:diameter ratios from trees grown in spacing trials were used to examine spacings that avoided development of unstable trees. Wide spacings or early thinnings provide the best means of avoiding major losses to snow and wind damage. The growth and yield model Prognosis was unable to predict height:diameter ratios for developing stands. West. J. Appl. For. 16(2):87–94.

Keywords: Height:diameter ratio; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; stand density; thinning; tree stability; western Montana

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Kentucky Hardwood Lumber Co., P.O. Box 983 Somerset, KY, 42502

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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