Forestry Tools – Silviculture

In part two of our series on Forestry terms, we are highlighting terms used with regard to silviculture; a term used often but misunderstood by many.  Simply put, silviculture is the manipulation of a forest stand to achieve desired production outcomes.  Whether you are a landowner or looking to invest in property either small or large, the following terms will help you better understand forest management.

Bedding – A mechanical method used to prepare a site for planting seedlings, bedding involves plowing the ground to form cultivated ridges. This technique is often done in conjunction with subsoiling.

Coppicing – A management method, usually used to regenerate hardwoods, in which tree stems are cut near the ground and shoots emerge from the stump.

Disking – Preparing a site for reseeding or planting by plowing the ground with disks to mix organic material into the soil. This method may also be used to encourage regrowth of native understory plants.

Drum chopping – A mechanical site preparation technique used to break up slash material and other vegetation above the soil surface.

Even-aged management – A method of maintaining a stand of same-age trees.

Clear cut – Harvesting all commercially valuable trees in a forest stand during a single operation.

Seed tree method – An even-age reproduction practice in which only a few widely spaced seed-bearing trees are left standing in each acre as a seed source for regeneration.

Shelterwood method – An even-age reproduction practice in which multiple successive cuttings remove the majority of trees, but some of the older trees are left standing to be a seed source and provide protection for regeneration.

Rake and pile – A mechanical site preparation technique in which material is raked, pulling up roots, and piled into windrows; usually not appropriate for highly erodible soils.

Scalping – A practice used when preparing a site for planting or seeding; the top layer of vegetation is cut with a mechanical plow, and then pulled up, exposing the soil. Scalping generally occurs on old pastures, heavy in grasses, being converted to forest.

Seedbed – An area of soil prepared (naturally or artificially) to encourage the germination of seeds and growth of seedlings.

Seedlings – Young trees; size varies by species and can range from only a few inches in height to taller, but usually less than breast height (4½ feet).

Shearing – A mechanical site preparation technique used to remove standing, nonmerchantable material, often following a clearcut.

Silvics – Biological characteristics of individual trees that determine how they will grow and reproduce.

Silviculture – The manipulation of a forest stand to achieve desired production outcomes.

Single-tree selection method – A uneven-aged reproduction practice in which individual trees of the oldest-age class are removed to create openings in the stand and to allow regeneration to occur naturally.

Snags – Standing trees that are dead or dying. Snags provide habitat for various plant and animal species.

Stagnation – Occurs when growing space between trees is limited, increasing competition for resources. The result is a forest stand with slow growth that makes trees susceptible to disease and insects.

Stand – A group of trees or vegetation with the same structure and similar growing conditions. Other criteria include tree age and species composition (e.g., longleaf pine or a pine-hardwood mix).

Streamside management zone (SMZ) –  Strip of forested land alongside a stream that is maintained to protect water quality.

Subsoiling – A practice used in site preparation that involves breaking up deep, dense soil layers, and alleviating effects of compaction. Subsoiling is often conducted following scalping or a controlled burn.

Thinning – A management practice of removing selected trees to encourage the growth and health of remaining trees. This practice should occur before a stand stagnates and becomes susceptible to pests and disease.

Uneven-aged management – A method of maintaining a stand of different tree ages through periodic thinning. Stands under this management technique have no beginning or end and attempt to mimic a more natural system.


  1. Good science about silviculture


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