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Harvesting Impacts on Understory Regeneration in Two-Storied Douglas-Fir Stands

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Conifers were underplanted beneath thinned 50-year-old Douglas-fir stands in western Oregon. Overstories had been thinned to four densities ranging from 18 to 31 m2/ha (78–134 ft2/ac) from stands originally stocked at about 23 to 51 m2/ha (100–220 ft2/ac). Seedlings beneath some densities showed declining vigor in the first 8 years after planting, resulting from overstory growth of about 5.7 m2/ha (25 ft2/ac) in that period. Some of the stands were rethinned to remove the basal area accrued since the first thinning. Timber was harvested by ground and cable equipment, with log length averaging over 10 m (32 ft) and averaging 52 m3/ha (4.7 mbf/ac, Scribner rule) on 29 ha (72 ac). Overall, 40% of planted seedlings were damaged by logging. Among the four species planted, between 18% and 30% of seedlings alive at the time of harvest were removed or lodged/buried under debris. An additional 13% to 16% had broken or dead tops or were bent at a lean greater than 45 degrees. Two years after thinning, damaged seedlings grew an average of 10 cm less than those not damaged. Unless densities are initially very low at the time of planting, e.g., <18 m2/ha (78 ft2/ac), rapidly growing overstories are likely to suppress understory plantings. Thinning will inflict losses unless logging is carefully laid out and executed, and long log lengths are minimized.
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Keywords: Logging damage; two storied stands; underplanting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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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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