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Alternative management approaches - commissioned reports



Date: 2013
Title: Alternative silvicultural systems: independent review and case studies
Authors: Dr. Scott McG. Wilson
Main Report: Technical report -March 2013

Case studies

Summary
Since Cyril Hart’s earlier review [FC Bulletin 115 (1995)], there has been considerable expansion and ramification of alternative silvicultural systems (or alternatives to clearfell (ATC)) adoption in Britain. Thirty case-studies highlight the diversity of current adoption. All 157 located examples are recorded in summary in a database. A core of longer-established examples remain on private estates with experienced retained foresters, but many recent examples are on public forests and charitable land holdings. Traditional objectives of estate landscape amenity, quality timber production and silvicultural curiosity have been augmented by new priorities of climatic/ pest and disease resilience, stand diversification, restoration of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS), woodfuel provisioning and reduction of restocking costs by natural regeneration. Understanding of regeneration dynamics and operational factors has developed considerably, but availability of experienced personnel and flexible forestry machinery remains limiting. Dissemination of project outcomes, together with promotion of quantitative enumeration and demonstration, should support continued ATC adoption.

The work reported here was financially sponsored by the Scottish Forestry Trust and the Forestry Commission and was conducted between August 2012 and March 2013 by the author personally.

The study was an independent one, and the views expressed in this technical report and the accompanying case-study reports are those of the author and should not be taken to be those of either of the sponsoring organisations.

More information about research on continuous cover forestry can be found from Forest Research. Also, the Continuous Cover Forestry Group organises meetings for people and groups with an interest in silviculture.



Date: 2011
Title: Approaches to the retention of timber potential when restoring or enhancing PAWS sites
Authors: Dr. Scott McG. Wilson
Reports: Full report and case studies

Summary
The present independent study sought to draw together relevant professional views, published scientific findings and practical experience of PAWS restoration and enhancement silviculture across Britain, through the research and reportage of twenty-seven short case-studies.

Twenty-seven case-studies highlighted approaches including reduction of coniferous canopy density by regeneration thinning, respacing of natural hardwood/ mixed regeneration, enrichment planting, and tending of young hardwoods (brashing, pruning, thinning). Retained timber potential can be found on all ownership classes. Many successful examples involved “traditional estate” forestry and “continuous-cover” forestry techniques with regular monitoring and interventions. Improved woodfuel prices support earlier respacing/ thinning of hardwoods. Financial considerations, stand instability/ windthrow hazard and perceived biodiversity/ conservation constraints impede retention of timber potential on PAWS restoration/ enhancement sites in some cases, favouring clearfell/ restock working. However the predominant limiting factor is the shortage (and perceived decline) of the practical forestry skills and experience that are necessary to optimise timber potential. Effective enabling actions are likely to include simplification/ relaxation of PAWS restoration prescriptions, under-pinning of the forestry training infrastructure and encouragement of technical information exchange.

The study was an independent one, and the views expressed in this technical report and the accompanying case-study reports are those of the author and should not be taken to be those of either of the sponsoring organisations.