TIMBER STAND IMPROVEMENT in HARDWOOD
hardwood timber makes for lovely walks and horseback
rides on our trails through
the timber. So how does one grow such a forest?
One way is to begin with native
pine woodlands, and lots of bluejays and squirrels.
The jays will pick up an acorn in the open hardwood
forest, then take it into the pines (where the sharpshin
hawk cannot eat the bluejay). The jay will drop a few
and the sun-loving acorn will grow in the sunny pine
Shown here on the left, a pine forest that was clearcut
to the ground fifteen years prior to this photo. Note
the far-too-extensive regrowth of undesirable maples,
scarlet oaks, and too-dense hickory and chesnut oaks,
with a few desirable white oaks and northern red oaks.
While some of the species selection comes from the site
being dry and south facing, thereby favoring the scarlet
and chesnut oaks, every tree is a hardwood.
Did we say sunny under pines? Hard to believe, is it
not? The pine forest floor is more sunny than under
a heavy oak canopy, where it's often too shady for acorns
to make it beyond a year or two. Just ask Tom Dierauf,
a Virginia State Forester and forest researcher for
thirty years. His research, on thousands of forest plots
on a wide variety of subjects, shows that...
|in pre-colonial days a wildfire would
come along and wipe out - or burn back - the shade-tolerant
(generally undesirable) saplings. Today we have clearcuts
of pine that have nearly the same effect, as do pine bark
beetle infestations , and major hurricanes or ice storms.
The one- or two-inch diameter oak saplings can often survive
the devastation and they will thrive and win the contest
in the race for the sky. Surprising as it may seem...
today, in the absence of native wildfire, this method
is our best hope for creating oak stands!
Tom Dierauf's research shows
that - since we have mostly eliminated natural wildfire
- our Appalachian hardwood forests are changing from oaks
and tulip poplars to less-desirable shade-tolerant species
like the soft maples; so we have begun using a recommended
practice called Timber Stand Improvement, shown to the
right, which emulates natural wildfire.
Our forester marked every undesirable tree, then our wood
crew cut them all down, leaving
the cuttings to rot and provide shelter for nesting wild
turkeys. The resprouting stumps provide browse for our
Virginia whitetail deer, birds, and other wildlife, and
may become a valuable source of timber regeneration in
It now looks like a big garden that has just been weeded!
At Bundoran, we are long-time
members of the
American Tree Farm System, the oldest
certifier of sustainable forests in the United States.
We try to follow forest management practices that are
economically and environmentally responsible - and scientifically
sound - and that maintain and improve long-term forest
health and productivity.
As we walk these woodlands- taking an occasional break
at a gazebo tucked near an
old growth mountain laurel in bloom - and looking out
over the orchards sloping
from the timbered mountaintops, across hundreds of acres
of rolling pasture to the
valleys below, one cannot
but be appreciative of all we enjoy.
We can drive big
teams of horses through these woods; come join us.
If you need a beautiful location, we can offer you one
of the best. Contact