Management Considerations

It is obvious from the research reviewed in this information that the various timber management practices affect each wildlife species differently. The greatest variety of mammals, birds, and herps can be encouraged by maintaining a mix of different forest types and different age classes growing on a variety of sites. Unless an endangered species (a species that requires a very specialized set of habitat conditions) is involved, we feel justified in suggesting a mixture of management practices, including clearcutting, as the best way to provide for the needs of most wildlife. The following suggestions may further enhance wildlife habitat.

1) Retention of coarse woody debris, both standing and down, will enhance and maintain favorable habitat conditions for cavity nesting and predatory birds, small mammals and herps.

2) Regular thinnings will encourage the re-emergence of forbs, grasses, woody shrubs, and vines, as well as enhance tree diameter growth.

3) Streamside management zones maintained adjacent to waterways will protect water quality and valuable wildlife habitat that occurs along streams.

4) In established pine stands, prescribed burning will help control the development of invading hardwoods and increase the quality and availability of tender browse, herbaceous forage, and leguminous fruits in the understory.

5) Maintaining the best fruit-producing trees (oaks and other mast trees) will enhance habitat for many wildlife species.

Impacts of clearcutting and other practices, favorable and unfavorable, must be viewed over an entire rotation and over the entire landscape. Clearcutting and other even-aged management techniques simulate, to a degree, natural disturbance regimes. Habitat values of stands regenerated through clearcutting change over time. Species reduced in abundance immediately following a clearcut likely will increase in abundance later in the rotation. Clearcutting is not the only silvicultural or land management practice on the landscape. When viewed in context, areas regenerated through clearcutting are usually not a large proportion of all land.

Any forestry practice can be misused and abused. Clearcutting is no exception. However, poor application of the practice by a few should not obscure the fact that, properly done, clearcutting is a beneficial management option.

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