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GUIDELINES for . . .
Spacer graphic Developing Stand Density Management Regimes

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      The Chief Forester formed a Stand Density Management Working Group (the Working Group) in February 1996. The mandate of the Working Group was to provide a decision framework to address some contentious issues surrounding the effects of stand density. The Working Group consisted of five members from industry (CFLA1(2), NFPA,2 ILMA3 and CLMA4) and five from the Ministry of Forests.

      Working Group deliberations considered the full range of stand density management practices, from initial espacement, through pre-commercial thinning (juvenile spacing) to commercial thinning. The main emphasis, however, was pre-commercial thinning practices. Conclusions and recommendations are based on a primary consideration of timber production, its implications on economics and forest-level planning.

A change in philosophy

      The Working Group advocates a philosophical change in the approach to stand-level decision making. The group believes that selecting an option from a predetermined range of acceptable density regimes or treatments is not a responsible approach to making a management decision. Rather, technically sound, stand density management demands a structured process of thought and analysis based on knowledge from a number of disciplines.

      This document provides a decision framework that supports this new philosophy. It is designed to organize and guide the prescriptive thought process, rather than specify appropriate density regimes or default density standards. It also incorporates up-to-date stand density management concepts and information essential to the decision process.

      Although not addressed here, the process of forest-level goal-setting is an important prerequisite to stand-level decision making. Given clearly stated, higher level direction, practitioners will find the information (knowledge) and framework (structure) elements of this document helpful in developing and justifying stand-specific prescriptions.

Decision criteria

      In order to make technically sound density management prescriptions, three categories of decision criteria must be considered:

      1. Biological - the biological response of tree and stand characteristics to treatment.
      2. Economic - the economic factors, assumptions and analytical procedures necessary to determine the relative value of a treatment.
      3. Forest level - the forest estate objectives against which the stand-level treatments are evaluated.

      These three criteria are the basic components of the decision framework. Economic and biological criteria address decisions involving stand-level planning. Forest-level criteria define the timber and non-timber production goals specified in higher level plans. The combined effects of all stand-level interventions must be evaluated in terms of their contribution to the achievement of forest-level goals.

      All decision elements and criteria of the framework should be considered during the prescription development process. The decision-making process must be comprehensive and technically valid; the resulting decision and stand prescription must be able to stand up to professional scrutiny.

      1 Coast Forest and Lumber Association.
      2 Northern Forest Products Association.
      3 Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association.
      4 Cariboo Lumber Manufacturers Association.

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Copyright 1999 Province of British Columbia
Forest Practices Branch
BC Ministry of Forests
This page was last updated January 1999

Comments to: Tim Ebata <>