“Silviculture” is the art and science of growing and tending forests. It’s an interesting, interrelated, interdependent set of knowledge and processes.

When managing and planning the future for a forest stand, the following topics are important silviculture considerations:

  • Stand characteristics (even-age, uneven-aged, variable-retention aged)
  • Harvest regeneration systems (clearcutting, seed tree method, dry forests, shelterwood method, group selection method, green tree retention method, two-tiered stands)
  • Regeneration principles (seed sources, stock and stock types, site preparation, planting techniques, plantation timing, plantation maintenance, natural regeneration)
  • Immediate cultural practices (weeding, precommercial thinning, commercial thinning, crown or high thinning, low thinning, stocking levels after thinning, relative density, stumps and snags, pruning, fertilizing)
  • Desired future conditions
  • Modeling (including Landscape Management System modeling software)
  • Considering special forest products beyond timber
  • Working with foresters and loggers
  • Rules and regulations

The highest value – and healthiest – forests are rarely just “plant and forget”. Instead, a consistent plan of density and health based management, thinning, and vigor optimization must be maintained on a regular basis. Regularly planned thinning and pruning may occur every 5 years or so, with more active management on smaller or specialized properties and longer periods for large industrial stands. There are many important interdependencies to balance together: end goals, species selection, understory and overstory, continually maintaining optimum health by maximizing resource usage, the larger surrounding ecosystem, and intended management involvement/intensity all must be considered when mapping and applying silviculture practices.


  • May 2008