Many of the activities that woodland owners do to benefit from and care for their woods come with an added bonus: they create and maintain young forests.
Prescribed burning, disking (shallow tilling), mowing, and timber harvesting all contribute to the conditions young forests need to take root.
When starting a young forest, the key is to remove all or a significant portion of the forest canopy. That means your harvesting method should clear the land of large, mature trees and any older vegetation growing between those trees, to leave you with open, sunny spaces where young trees can sprout. Shelterwood harvests, seed-tree harvests, and clearcuts are all harvesting methods that can help you accomplish that.
- Clearcuts remove most or all of the woody vegetation in a small area of your woods.
- Seed-tree harvesting is like a small-scale clearcut, except that some seed-bearing or stump-sprouting trees (if you have them) are left standing to produce the next generation of trees.
- Shelterwood harvesting is a kind of gradual or “slow-motion” clear cut. It selectively removes some big trees and all the understory vegetation, allowing just enough light and space for the next generation of trees. As the young trees become established, more or all of the mature trees are removed to leave you with an even-aged young forest.