Forest Vegetation Management is the management of a wide range of forest types with many varying management objectives. The tools used to manage a forest can vary due to forest type, current forest structure, local topography, climate or people that may be affected by management actions. I believe that forest management actions should always be carefully considered for each timber harvest project even when working in a familiar forest type such as using patch cuts in lodgepole pine. Forest management requires more than deciding which method to use to harvest trees but also includes extensive planning to prepare the site before harvest and to ensure the site remains viable for future management.
The Colorado State Forest Service provides Best Management Practices, or BMPs, to help protect the forest’s “aesthetic value, clean water, abundant wildlife, minerals, recreation and renewable resources such as forage and timber…” (Forestry Best Management Practices, p. 1). Things such as a forest’s proximity to roads, streams and people need to be considered during the planning process. These factors can be a vital part of the forest planning process because up to 90% of sedimentation from forest activities comes from roads and the sensitivity of riparian areas (Forestry Best Management Practices, p. 4). The timing of forest operations is also an important part of forest management planning. Winter road construction and winter timber harvesting can greatly reduce impacts from soil compaction and erosion due to frozen ground or snow providing a protective cover from machinery (Forestry Best Management Practices, p. 22). After a timber harvest, it is important to consider the condition of the site and how regeneration may occur. Removal of slash and re-vegetation can have large impacts on the regeneration of the site and techniques can vary depending on the location.
Forest management is a complex process that must be uniquely adapted for each management situation and forest conditions. Even within a forest type such as lodgepole pine management techniques that are commonly used such as patch cutting may not be preferable due to limitations such as neighboring landowners or impacts on water quality. The best way to manage a forest is to prepare the best possible plan before any action is taken to ensure a properly prepared site, minimize damage before, during and after operations and maintain an economically sustainable site.