Module 3 — Stand level components
of biodiversity
British Columbia
Ministry of Forests
Course Start | Contents | Help | Index | Ministry Home

Module 3, Part B — Wildlife trees — continued
up icon 
Module 3

Creating wildlife trees


There are several techniques used for creating wildlife trees.

These techniques may be of value for restoring or enhancing wildlife tree habitat. They are not intended to replace natural retention strategies. The natural retention strategies are the preferred method.

iconAre there other techniques that can be used to create wildlife trees?
 If so, name and
describe them
  Seven techniques are:
  1. Stubs
  2. Tree topping
  3. Fungal inoculation
  4. Nestboxes and cavity construction
  5. Planting standing dead trees (snags)
  6. Blasting
  7. Stem girdling



iconWhat should forest managers be doing to retain natural stubs?


One method of creating wildlife trees is to high-cut stumps when harvesting with mechanical feller bunchers. This leaves small standing dead trees called stubs (see Figure 11).

Stubs provide structure within second-growth forests and create future coarse woody debris.

  • Candidates for stubs should exhibit some defects in the lower bole, which reduce their timber value but enhance their habitat value.

  • Stubs cannot replace attributes associated with full height wildlife trees, but still provide limited stand level structure.


 for stubs

iconAre there other recommendations? If so, what are they?


Stems suitable for stub creation should have some visible defect (such as a canker, scar or conk) in the lower bole and little or no lean. Trees which do not have heart rot prior to death (i.e., stubbing) will not develop this critical WLT attribute.


Tree topping



icon What other hints can you add to tree topping?


Tree topping can be employed in situations where the installation of a no-work zone around a high value wildlife tree in order to protect the work area from aerial hazards (e.g., a large spiked top or large dead limbs on a class 2 tree) is not appropriate. 

For example,
  • If no net loss of operable/treatable ground on the block due to no-work zones is a management objective 

  • If a valuable wildlife tree with a hazardous top is present on the block (and a second management objective is to retain structural wildlife tree habitat where possible) 

Then topping the tree and removing the hazard is a viable management solution.

iconIs this strategy used often in BC forests?

Healthy class 1 trees (trees with no visible external defects) can also be topped to simulate natural breakage and promote standing dead tree recruitment. This may be appropriate in even-aged stands with little or no structural diversity.

Trees can be jagged-topped to simulate natural breakage, thereby facilitating weathering and decay processes.

Only highly experienced and trained personnel should be used to climb and top trees.

  next Next: Creating wildlife trees - continued
up icon 
Module 3

  Course Start | Contents | Help | Index | Ministry Home
footer graphic top of page