Introduction to Low-Impact Forestry

In 1946, the Maritime Forest Ranger School established a 10-acre study area on the University of New Brunswick woodlot to compare long-term wood volume yields between clearcutting, selection cutting, and no cutting. This was mixed wood dominated by red spruce, balsam fir, hemlock, poplar, and red maple. It contained trees of several age classes, about half of which were approximately 60 years old, and had a wood volume of 17 cords/acre.

Between 1946 and 1989, the site logged selectively yielded 42 percent more wood than the clearcut area. On the selection cut site, twenty eight cords per acre were harvested in three cuts from 1946 to 1989, and after the third cut, the site still supported nineteen cords per acre of much improved growing stock.

The value of the standing timber in the selection cut is now much greater than that now standing on the clearcut site, although it was harvested three times and the clearcut only once. The selection cut site supports twice the volume of wood growing on the clearcut site, and the value of the wood (red spruce) is considerably greater than that found on the clearcut site (poplar).

Low-impact forestry offers an alternative to today's predominant industrial forestry methods. Low-impact forestry emphasizes partial cutting carried out on a regular schedule, to provide an even flow of income for the woodlot owner.

Properly applied, low-impact forestry will lead to a continual improvement in growing stock, increasing both the quality and quantity of the timber resource. In the process, a continuous forest cover is maintained, wildlife habitat is improved, water quality is protected, and ecological functions are preserved.

Two more ways woodlot owners and operators can reduce their ecological footprints:

  • Use vegetable-based chain saw oil. It is cost effective and provides quality performance
  • Use cellulose flagging tape. It is less harmful to the environment than plastic flagging tape, and it is biodegradable.