The foresters who first started to manage stands in Europe generally sought to regenerate useful species in a manner that would ensure some long-term sustainability. Forestry was born out of necessity, a result of unrestrained exploitation in natural stands which eventually led to severe timber shortages.
As time went by and the foresters closely compared the results of their stand manipulations to changes in natural stands, they observed similar patterns emerging. They saw species regenerating in certain ways, and using specific seedbeds and environments for germination and growth. Building on this basic knowledge of silvics, they likely started to experiment with different cutting patterns, leaving uniform leave-trees at different densities and small openings of differing sizes and shapes.
Eventually they learned that certain species could be managed on certain sites with a similar program of treatments to produce predictable yields over time. They eventually categorized these programs of treatments into the silvicultural systems that we know today.
While the broad terminology of the European experience can work in British Columbia, we must be cautious. The species mixes we manage and the demands of our landowner (i.e., the public) are not necessarily the same as in Europe. Therefore, we must modify the European systems so that they work for our species and circumstances. The European experience, however, is a good place to start.
British Columbia silviculturists need an innovative and creative spirit. Formalized textbook approaches, based on the European or U.S. precedents, are not appropriate.
Whenever man comes up with a better mousetrap, nature
comes up with a better mouse
The transition from one stage in the development of silvicultural systems to another has not been as steady and smooth and unerringly upward as one may infer from any effort to trace the history of silviculture. Rather, it has largely been a trial and error process in which experience and scientifically acquired knowledge and special interests, politics, and the influential views of persuasive foresters have been deflecting or tangential forces.