A silvicultural system is a planned program of treatments during the whole life of a stand designed to achieve specific stand structural objectives. This program of treatments integrates specific harvesting, regeneration, and stand tending methods to achieve a predictable yield of benefits from the stand over time.
Typical sequence of a silvicultural system
The general aim of silviculture is to ensure that most available growing space is filled with useful plants for as much of the stand's life as is practical. "Useful plants" often include timber species, but increasingly include forage and other forest vegetation. Silviculture also strives to ensure that the dynamic structure of the stand meets the needs of the landowner at any given point.
In the past, silvicultural systems have been designed to maximize the production of timber crops. However, more recently additional ecological considerations and resource objectives have been included. A silvicultural system generally has the following basic goals:
In designing a planned program of treatments to achieve these basic objectives, apractitioner will generally create a detailed stand level plan or long-term prescription. However, these prescriptions can be grouped into readily recognizable types of programs called silvicultural systems.
Silviculturists generally deal with far less than perfect stands. Imperfect stands can be improved, but not to ideal conditions even with the best of knowledge. With erroneous knowledge, however, it is quite easy to ruin the ability of a stand to meet the landowner's objectives.