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

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A Structured Decision Process


      Information pertinent to stand density management decisions has been introduced in preceding sections of this document. The knowledge required to make density management decisions is similar to that required for other silviculture decisions. For example, a silviculture planner must understand the requirements and objectives of the forest owner, the characteristics of the forest and the response potential of individual stands within the forest to specific management interventions

      In this section, a framework for stand density management decision making is presented. The decision-making process links each component of the framework into a knowledge-based, structured approach to stand density management problem solving.

Decision framework

      The decision framework consists of three major components.

Management objectives

      Management objectives define the current and future quantity and quality of timber and non-timber resources desired from the forest. For instance, management objectives should specify the silvicultural system(s) to be employed, the periodic rate of timber harvest, the species to be managed, the standards defining current and future harvesting operability, and current and future product objectives.

      Non-timber resource objectives require similar detail. For instance, biodiversity, habitat, recreation and visual management objectives should be defined in space and time parameters, including specified areas, specific locations, management periods and standards defining the kinds of management interventions permitted.

      Defining management objectives for public forest resources is a complex process. Factors such as the nature and extent of the forest resources available, the goals of each resource user, and the resource management rules imposed by governments must be harmonized into a single, acceptable forest management plan. The process of defining forest management objectives is beyond the scope of this document. However, the importance of a forest management plan to the stand density management decision process is paramount. Forest management objectives must clearly state specific expectations of products, services and amenities to be provided by the forest.

Strategic practices

      Management plan objectives and the structural and productivity characteristics of the forest estate will determine which silviculture strategy (forest practice) to pursue. The strategic value of reforestation, density management, fertilization and pest management can be determined through analysis, usually involving forest estate modelling (see "Density management planning tools").

      Pre-requisites for a forest-level strategic analysis are:

      1. clear and specific forest management objectives
      2. accurate information on the growing stock of the forest
      3. knowledge of the potential benefits of a wide range of silviculture practices.

      More than one strategy may be necessary to accomplish management objectives. A thorough analysis will indicate relative strategic values, (e.g., brushing vs thinning), as well as the scale of silviculture activity necessary.

Tactical prescriptions

      Stand-specific silviculture treatments are tactical decisions. Stand-level tactics (silviculture prescriptions) should support silviculture strategies. Prescription design and treatment effectiveness must be viewed within the context of the strategic plan.

      The key point here is that stand density prescriptions must be made within the context of a broader silviculture regime, and a silvicultural regime must be guided by the strategic objectives for the mangement unit.

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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 <>