Forestry is a diverse field that’s evolved exponentially. Traditional logging and forest management practices exploited the environment with no regard for eco-conservation. Large-scale deforestation and land clearing did more damage to the forests.
Modern practices have shifted the discourse to emphasize the need for proper and responsible forest management. Although trees are a crucial commodity, logging businesses now try to focus on sustainable practices to protect indigenous wildlife.
That’s where the need for even-aged and uneven-aged cutting methods comes from. It is important to understand various cutting methods regardless of your reason for logging trees. Let’s explore each method and compare them to find a suitable method for your needs.
Even-Aged Forest Management
Even-aged forest management or timber management is one of the tree harvesting methods to achieve a coeval cohort of trees. This is the traditional method to regenerate forest stands after a major disturbance. These types of stands occur naturally and maintain their structure until the next disturbance occurs.
An even-aged structure indicates that tree stands have a single-size class and age. These tree stands comprise fewer species and less diversity than their uneven-aged counterparts.
The process of even-aged management starts with the selection of a suitable stand to harvest. The selected trees are of desirable species, merchantable size, and in an area where harvesting equipment can be accessed.
After selection, the tree stand is harvested by using processors, feller-bunchers, and skidders. During this process, merchantable trees are harvested whereas un-merchantable trees are cut to make equipment or crushed. The process is therefore named the clearcutting method.
The logging company must replant the same percentage of species that they cut before the harvest. The companies usually use the silviculture method to preserve the species and their growth proportion.
This method is widely used across the world because of its economic benefits. Since forest management is a high-cost industry, the expenses of trucking, log transportation, and equipment are immense. This is why logging companies need to keep their costs low and using the even-aged method is one excellent way to do that. For forest and logging companies, higher productivity per hour is necessary and they achieve this through the clearcutting method.
Even-aged management has both pros and cons considering wildlife preservation. It can affect biodiversity and habitat because some species thrive on natural forests or uneven tree distribution.
However, depending on the biodiversity, some species also thrive on even-aged distribution. Certain trees evolve favorably in even-aged forest distribution while others adapt to thrive. Similarly, it also benefits certain wildlife species.
Uneven-Aged Forest Management
Uneven-aged stand structure refers to trees having three or more age classes. This forest management structure comes from a variety of size classes, species, and ages within the stand. Various species grow at different rates making the overstory canopy unrecognizable.
In uneven-aged forests, each age class or species demonstrates an average diameter of its own. These stands are, therefore, considered balanced if they have at least three or more age groups.
Presently, uneven-aged treatment methods have become more frequent than their even-aged counterparts. Forest companies maintain a range of tree species, ages, and sizes by harvesting trees either by individual selection or group selection.
Individual selection involves cutting individual trees of every age class and size. These were removed less uniformly and more in volume throughout the stand.
The group selection method involves tree removal to introduce new-age classes in small groups. Their goal is similar to individual selection: removing older trees while tending to younger ones. The only difference is in the volume of removal whereby trees are removed in patches or small groups instead of uniformly.
In uneven-aged methods, only certain species are harvested which incurs hourly cost whereas fewer trees are harvested per hour. Since companies look for ways to increase their profitability, it’s important to raise productivity per hour. That’s something that is missing in uneven-aged forest management. That’s why more companies opt for even-aged methods.
Compared to even-aged forest management, uneven-aged helps biodiversity in a better way. Since trees aren’t harvested at the same time, it supports habitat abundance. These types of tree stands are also more resistant to insect infestations and windfall than even-aged forests. Thus, providing a better yearly sustainable harvest.
Another reason uneven-aged forest management is deemed better is that it leaves woody debris, trees, and dead snags behind to produce a more diverse forest structure.
While the even-aged method is cost-effective, the uneven-aged method helps biodiversity. You can render our expert logging services in Maine and New Hampshire. Our team of expert loggers specializes in quality land management and logging services while focusing on the sustainability of forests and biodiversity. As logging contractors operating for the past 30 years, William A. Day Jr. & Sons focuses on delivering value to our customers. We also offer lot clearing and trucking services to meet all your logging needs. Contact us today!