Courtesy Peter Gribbon

Silviculture is the range of forest management practices - from reforestation to thinning - to help create forest conditions that allow short-and long-term habitat timber objectives to be met.

Courtesy Peter Gribbon

An important part of silviculture is the management of forest vegetation by controlling stand establishment, growth, composition, quality and structure, for the full range of forest resource objectives.

Courtesy Peter Gribbon

Through proper silviculture practices, Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar achieves a number of forest management objectives. We improve a young forest's value as a provider of timber, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities. We decrease the chance of the forest becoming destroyed by fire, disease and insects.

Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar’s approach to intensive silviculture will not only increase the sustainable volume and value of wood growing in the forests, but will also lead to improved wildlife habitats and enhanced opportunities for other forest users. Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar manages all licence areas for long-term ecological sustainability and to ensure a steady and continuing flow of high quality timber.

We prescribe silviculture systems that are ecologically appropriate for the harvest areas and consistent with the objectives established in higher-level plans. The silviculture system chosen for any site reflects the biology of the native tree species, existing stand structures, the ecology of the site, worker safety, and the economic feasibility of the harvesting operation. The system selected must also fulfil all requirements of applicable BC Forestry Legislation.

Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar will use the best available science to develop an understanding of ecological responses to natural and human-caused disturbances. This knowledge will be incorporated into higher level and operational plans by applying ecosystem management principles to achieve desired future forest conditions.

Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar has been recommended for ISO14001 certification and we use our Environmental Management System extensively throughout our silviculture program to ensure the integrity of our operations.

Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar’s silviculture program

The program covers a broad range of practices, specific to the ecological site conditions and management objectives. Our treatments include:

Site Preparation
Site preparation treatments are sometimes completed to facilitate planting or to reduce fire hazard. In general, sufficient plantable spots exist following harvest. However, there are occasions when treatment is necessary to increase seedling survival and growth, achieve target-stocking levels, control brush species, reduce fire hazard and improve wildlife habitat.

  • Low impact excavators are used to mechanical spot scarify or mound cutover areas and areas with soil compaction concerns. Most of the fine and coarse woody debris remains on site.
  • In areas where non-merchandisable material has accumulated along the roadsides during harvesting, debris is piled and burned. Some accumulations may be left to weather naturally and provide important habitat for small mammals. The debris may be moved onto the roadbed as part of our program to rehabilitate secondary resource roads following harvest. The large woody debris provides both shade and a long-term nutrient supply to seedlings planted along the deactivated road surface. Extremely heavy roadside accumulations are bunched or windrowed in preparation for burning.
  • Areas maybe broadcast burned in situations where fire hazard is considered to be unacceptably high and insufficient plantable spots exist.

Courtesy Peter Gribbon

Forest Regeneration
Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar is required by law to bring every cutblock harvested back to a healthy, "free-to-grow" forest state within a maximum of 15 years from commencement of harvesting. Every year Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar plants in the region of 1 million trees. The regenerated stands are managed until free-to-grow status is achieved.

The seedlings planted are derived from appropriate supply of ecologically suitable seedlings. Where superior seed is available from the provincial tree improvement program, we will favour the use of this seed in our reforestation activities. For a proportion of our harvest areas, we encourage natural regeneration of the same species found on the site prior to harvest.

Courtesy Peter Gribbon

Brushing and Weeding
Brushing and weeding helps to control brush competition and ensure crop tree survival. Excessive competition for light, water and nutrients can have a serious impact on seedling survival and site productivity. A seedling may survive under such conditions but will not grow effectively until released from the competing vegetation. Any prescribed brush control treatment is designed to minimize the effect on native wildlife species. We use three different control treatments: herbicide, manual and biological. The immediate planting of all brush-prone sites with high quality nursery stock assists in minimizing the need for brush control.

A small proportion of blocks herbicide is applied to hold targeted vegetation in check until seedlings are tall enough to no longer be affected by the competition for light and nutrients.

Pre-commercial thinning (spacing)
This involves the removal of weak or deformed trees, providing more room for the stronger trees so they can grow faster, straighter and stronger. Unless it will create a hazard for other forest users, we leave the thinned trees on the ground to maintain soil productivity and provide habitat for small mammals, birds, insects and other creatures.

Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar also thins certain stands to enhance timber quality, improve wildlife habitat, such as mule deer winter range, or to shorten the time required for the stand to develop old growth attributes.

A silvicultural system is a planned program of treatments throughout the life of the stand to achieve stand structural objectives based on integrated resource management goals. A silvicultural system includes harvesting, regeneration and stand-tending methods or phases. It covers all activities for the entire length of a rotation or cutting cycle.

At Downie Timber and Selkirk Cedar, many silvicultural systems are utilized including variations and combinations of clearcut, patch-cut, coppice, shelterwood and selection systems.

Silviculture Assessments
A series of periodic surveys are used to monitor the health and vigour of our young forests from initial establishment to second harvest. Regeneration surveys are carried out within two years of planting. These surveys assess the level of success that our reforestation efforts have achieved relative to the objectives set out in the stocking standards contained within the Site Plan.

Regeneration performance assessments are done to review the effect of different treatments on seedling survival and growth. The results of the assessment allow us to develop new and innovative techniques designed to improve the performance of our young forests. A free-growing survey is the final field check performed to certify that our basic forestry objectives have been met.

Sometimes the survey results determine that remedial action is required to increase stocking levels, control brush species, or protect seedlings from animal damage. When this occurs, the necessary action is prescribed and the area is scheduled for treatment.





P.O. Box 800, 1621 Mill Street
Revelstoke BC, Canada V0E 2S0
Office: (250) 837-2222
Fax: (250) 837-2200
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