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

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      Stand density management is the process of controlling tree density within a stand to achieve desired objectives. This requires an understanding of the effects of density management practices on the structure and development of stands, and the combined effects of all treated stands on forest management objectives and future economics.

      Stand density management practices include the espacementof planted trees, pre-commercial thinning (juvenile spacing) and commercial thinning. These practices can have a significant impact on the structure, health and pattern of stand development, which in turn influences stand composition and utility through time. Appropriate decisions may enhance future stand values, tree and wood properties, and habitat characteristics. Inappropriate decisions will at best fail to achieve management objectives, and may compromise future stand values, stand health, or both.

      Prediction of future conditions incorporates a degree of risk, uncertainty and subjectivity. For instance, future value predictions depend largely on the expected future costs and values, and precise estimates of growth and yield are unlikely without extensive research and empirical observation. Nevertheless, a sound density management prescription must consider three elements of prediction:

      1. biological responses of the stand to treatment
      2. economic implications of the treatment
      3. forest-level effects of the treatment.

      This document provides essential information on each of these elements, and provides a structured decision process for making site-specific density management prescriptions. It intentionally avoids placing constraints on the prescriptive process, and therefore offers no regime, treatment method or density level recommendations. Rather, it encourages licensees, consultants and district foresters to develop density management plans using sound rationale and careful analysis.

      The decision process requires a clear statement of objectives in TFL and TSA management plans. I therefore encourage both industry and government representatives to engage in extensive, joint dialogue in order to establish management unit objectives, and plan silviculture programs to achieve them. The importance of providing extensive and on-going training in the use of the planning methods identified in these guidelines is fully recognized.

      Guidelines for Developing Stand Density Management Regimes does not define a maximum stand density figure. Instead, silviculture practitioners should adopt the decision process it outlines in order to determine the need for stand density management activities. This process should be applied to all tree species and stand conditions, including repressed stands. Guidance on the application of the biological, economic and forest-level criteria is outlined in the section "A structured decision process." No activity should be considered unless they are shown to be biologically feasible.

      The administrative details of stand density management issues are not discussed in this document; they will be dealt with through policy.

      I am convinced that the needs and interests of future generations of British Columbians are best served by a diversity of stand and forest conditions across the province. This document supports this philosophy and provides a model for future guidelines. It challenges professional foresters to make biologically sound, stand-specific, well-reasoned prescriptions which are considered within the context of forest-level objectives. I encourage you to embrace the opportunities this philosophy and decision process provides.

      Chief Forester signature

      Larry Pedersen
      Chief Forester
      British Columbia Forest Service

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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 <>