Compaction and Case Studies: Applied Silviculture

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Compaction and Case Studies: Applied Silviculture

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Silviculture is an applied discipline that combines art and science to sustainably manage forests for a variety of goals. Every silvicultural prescription allows the silviculturist to be creative in accomplishing management goals and objectives for a stand while working within a defined ecological framework. My thesis work incorporates both of these aspects of silviculture by exploring the innovative approaches to solving forest management challenges. Utilizing the applied nature of silviculture, I used an online platform, the Great Lakes Silviculture Library (GLSL) to study how effectively a case study library was able to convey relevant, actionable silvicultural treatments to resource managers. Secondly, I explored how long-term data can add knowledge to a silviculturist’s toolbox. Chapter one focused on how foresters were using the GLSL and how that information was informing their silvicultural practices. The GLSL provides a novel platform through which land managers can exchange the results of their on-the-job experimentation. This represents a new form of content that is local and generated by peers. I found that the GLSL was primarily used by participants not only as a source of inspiration for a prescription but as a way to communicate concepts within and beyond the forestry profession. Users reported turning to case studies most often when managing novel forest types or trying to solve unfamiliar problems. They valued the opportunity to see what other land managers were doing on nearby ownerships, and using that information to inform their work. A key take-away from the focus group discussion was the need for long-term results. Building on this concept, I examined the regeneration response to soil compaction in an aspen stand 20 years after a clearcut harvest in northern Minnesota. Soil compaction was classified into four different classes: control (0 passes), low (1-10 passes), medium (11-100 passes) and high (100+ passes). To quantify impact of soil compaction, I measured soil resistance to penetration on permanent plots established in 1999 prior to a harvest in 2000. Twenty years after harvesting, the top ten centimeters of soil had recovered to pre-harvest levels with regards to compaction. However, recovery was not observed at depths of 10-15 centimeters on plots that experienced 11 or more passes of harvesting equipment. Plots with between 1 and 10 passes had the highest overall regeneration and the greatest density of aspen trees. This study suggests that some compaction (and likely scarification) as a result of harvest equipment traffic can promote regeneration in aspen forest types without negatively impacting growth and development after 20 years. Together, these studies demonstrate how foresters can continue to learn and refine their craft and of the value of long-term results in the field of forestry. Clear documentation of treatments can aid future work that builds on those treatments and generates further knowledge. This knowledge can better equip foresters to more confidently practice silviculture in complex or uncertain conditions.



University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2021. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisors: Marcella Windmuller-Campione, Eli Sagor. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 66 pages.

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Moser, Robert. (2021). Compaction and Case Studies: Applied Silviculture. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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