Module 3 — Stand level components
of biodiversity
British Columbia
Ministry of Forests
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Module 3, Part B — Wildlife trees — continued
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Module 3

Application to forest management


The application to forest management is divided into three parts:

  1. Silviculture, harvest area boundary,
    and roadside applications

  2. Harvesting applications

  3. Wildlife tree retention (WTR)

1. Silviculture, harvest area boundary, and roadside applications

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  Until recently, standing dead trees were routinely removed for safety reasons in all forestry operations. This represented a significant loss of habitat for some species of wildlife dependent on these trees.

In an effort to reduce this loss, the Wildlife Tree Committee has developed techniques for assessing the safety hazards, soundness, and associated habitat value of wildlife trees.

These techniques can be applied to wildlife/danger tree assessment in silviculture, roadside, and harvest area and Parks/Recreation site situations, thereby giving forest managers a tool for determining the relative safety hazard and habitat value of particular wildlife trees.

Appropriate management action can then be taken (e.g., work around the tree(s) as is, remove tree(s), create a no-work zone around specific trees.) thus, it is possible to maintain wildlife tree habitat in forests operations in a safe and efficient manner.

2.  Harvesting applications

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  Wildlife tree management in forest harvesting operations relies on strategies such as single tree retention and the use of reserves.

Areas reserved for wildlife trees can be located within or adjacent to harvest settings and should contain both live and standing dead trees of varying sizes, species, structure, and stages of decay.

Patch reserves and single trees can be accommodated in each of the silvicultural systems used in BC.

3. Wildlife tree retention (WTR)

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  Wildlife tree retention (WTR) should, as a first priority, protect trees with valuable wildlife tree attributes. Where there are few trees with valuable attributes, retention should be located in areas most suitable for long-term wildlife tree recruitment.
  1. A diversity of WTR approaches is recommended; e.g., a range of wildlife tree patch sizes, combined with dispersed trees (there will be ecosystem-dependent variations of this recommendation).

  2. It is particularly important to retain uncommon species, stand characteristics, and other elements of stand-level biodiversity.

    Consequently, relatively uncommon tree species and features in the block and adjacent subzones should form a larger proportion of the WTR objective. Consider species that exhibit or have the potential to develop, valuable wildlife tree attributes.

  3. Those trees/areas chosen for WTR should be designated for retention until other suitable trees can replace them — a minimum of one rotation.

  4. Trees/areas chosen for WTR should be designed to minimize windthrow and the potential for contributing to insect infestation in adjacent stands.

  5. If trees chosen as wildlife trees have been felled or windthrown, they should be left in place to function as coarse woody debris, unless they pose a significant forest health or other concern.

  6. Selection of appropriate WTR areas should consider existing wildlife trees on the site. Planning for a diversity of wildlife tree classes will better meet future large wildlife tree and CWD objectives (including recruitment and longevity).

  7. How the characteristics of individual trees may affect the potential to achieve or maintain a particular stand structure (e.g., shade tolerance, tree longevity, or disease/pest resistance) should be considered when selecting appropriate retention areas. Ensure that the trees being retained have the potential to achieve the desired stand structure.

  8. It is important to consider natural succession and other natural factors, such as wind, when planning retention areas.

    Individual and patch reserves will not remain in the same condition forever, and therefore may not provide the same habitat attributes over a rotation.

  9. The most windfirm reserves, and therefore the most likely to remain standing after harvesting, are reserves that consider the site, stand and individual trees during layout.

    For individual trees, size (low height/diameter ratio) is generally a much more reliable indicator of Windfirmness than species.

  10. The importance of WTR areas within cutblocks increases with the size of the cutblock.

    WTR areas should generally be centred on the most suitable trees and distributed throughout the cutblock; distances between wildlife tree patches should not exceed 500 meters

  next Next: Part 3B closure
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Module 3

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