1 Definition of a Silvicultural System 4 The Decision Process Appendix 1 Answer Key
2 Major Types of Systems 5 There's More to Learn Appendix 2 Advantages and Disadvantages
3 Variations of Major Types 6 Implementation Appendix 3 References

What is a Silvicultural System?

A silvicultural system is a planned program of treatments during the whole life of a stand designed to achieve specific stand structural objectives. This program of treatments integrates specific harvesting, regeneration, and stand tending methods to achieve a predictable yield of benefits from the stand over time.

Diagram of silvicultural system

Typical sequence of a silvicultural system

The general aim of silviculture is to ensure that most available growing space is filled with useful plants for as much of the stand's life as is practical. "Useful plants" often include timber species, but increasingly include forage and other forest vegetation. Silviculture also strives to ensure that the dynamic structure of the stand meets the needs of the landowner at any given point.

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In the past, silvicultural systems have been designed to maximize the production of timber crops. However, more recently additional ecological considerations and resource objectives have been included. A silvicultural system generally has the following basic goals:

  • meets the goals and objectives of the landowner
  • provides for timely availability of many forest resources (not just timber)
  • produces predictable harvests over the long term
  • balances biological/ecological and economic concerns to ensure renewability of resources
  • provides for regeneration
  • effectively uses growing space and site productivity
  • considers forest health issues.

In designing a planned program of treatments to achieve these basic objectives, apractitioner will generally create a detailed stand level plan or long-term prescription. However, these prescriptions can be grouped into readily recognizable types of programs called silvicultural systems.

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Silviculturists generally deal with far less than perfect stands. Imperfect stands can be improved, but not to ideal conditions even with the best of knowledge. With erroneous knowledge, however, it is quite easy to ruin the ability of a stand to meet the landowner's objectives.
Chadwick Oliver and
Bruce Larson (1990)


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