Testing & Demonstrating Innovative Management
We strive to apply novel thinking in order to develop or import innovative approaches to current and projected forest management challenges in the West. Increasingly, we see a need for operationally-efficient treatments that can acheive an expanding array of forest objectives while maintaining or enhancing forest resilience and management flexibility. AFMP efforts reflect this view in research and demonstration projects. Current and recent examples include the following:
- Variable Retention Harvesting - Exploring the effects of different overstory retention levels on seedling growth and structural development. Studies in Montana and Oregon are testing the feasibility of aggregated and dispersed retention harvesting methods in lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine forests.
- Variable Density Thinning - Developing and testing operationally efficient techniques for introducing heterogeneity into mature second-growth stands.
- Restoration of Old-growth Ponderosa Pine Forests -Exploring threats to fire-suppressed old-growth stands, and best practices for their active restoration. Recent projects have investigated the unique fuel loading and potential fire behavior aspects of old-growth stands; tree mortality threats associated with prescribed burning; and the effects of hazard fuel and restoration thinnings on spatial complexity.
- Supporting a Biomass Fuel Based Energy Infrastructure -Evaluating the effects of biofuels harvesting methods and levels on forest productivity and condition; exploring the added-value potential of biochar (a biofuel pyrolysis byproduct) as a surrogate for non-renewable mineral amendments in container seedling production. In the absence of a biomass fuel market, examining the effects of slash pile burning on soil productivity, and identifying practices that best minimize site effects.
- Enhancing Future Stand Complexity via Irrgularly Spaced Planting Methods - Structural variability and differentiation are facillitated through irregular and variable spacing. In reforesting severely disturbed sites, irregular spacing may better mimic natural regeneration patterns, promote post-planting spatial complexity, and increase future management flexibility.
- Future Trends in the Aftermath of Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreaks - Documenting and exploring multiple developmental pathways that stands may follow after high mortality from pine beetle infestation. Highlighting the tradeoffs associated with these different developmental pathways.
- Expanding-Gap Silviculture - Borrowing ideas from recent work at the University of Maine, we are exploring the potential for this adaptation of traditional group selection that serves as an even-aged / uneven-age management hybrid, by mimicing natural forest gap inititation and expansion.