Parker Family Forest, CA
By Linwood Gill
It is our overall goal at the Parker Family Forest to develop a multiple-use forest emphasizing long-term maximum production of high quality forest products. However, production must be compatible with the related values of aesthetics, wildlife, recreation, watershed, and grazing. It is sometimes necessary to accept less than optimum production to enhance and preserve these related forest values.
We believe that when managing the forest, we are also managing an investment. Since a return is ultimately expected on an investment, it is our responsibility to balance both economic and resource factors.
These factors are balanced by establishing a long range sustained-yield goal, and then managing the forest to realize this goal. In a nutshell, our management involves two components:
- Increasing timber inventory (a quantitative goal).
- Improving stand structure (a qualitative goal).
Inventory is increased by cutting less than the forest is growing. For example, if a forest is growing 1,000,000 board feet every decade, then a harvest of 750,000 board feet will allow the remaining 250,000 board feet to add to the future growing stock.
By repeating this pattern over several decades, we can continually build stand inventory and eventually attain a long-term sustainable harvest level or “allowable cut.” Once this allowable cut is attained, we can harvest the periodic growth without ever depleting the inventory.
The forest inventory is “principle” and the growth is “interest” earned on the principle. We believe that a truly sustainable forest allows the perpetual harvest of interest without ever touching the principle.
However, a sustained allowable cut only addresses how much volume is removed. It does not consider which trees are removed or what the forest will look like following harvest. To build inventory, one must retain a significant portion of the best quality and most vigorous trees in the post-harvest stand.
In developing the true sustained-yield forest, it is important not only to cut less than the periodic growth, but to resist the temptation to cut the biggest and best quality trees. Our personal criteria for tree removal can be lumped into three strategies. These are, in descending order of priority:
- “Sanitation” strategy: Removing damaged, dying, or diseased trees. These include trees that may die prior to the next harvest. Potential wildlife trees or snags are exceptions.
- “Thinning from below” strategy: Removing suppressed and intermediate crown-class trees. These trees are not presently contributing significant growth, nor are they likely to do so over the next cycle. These are generally smaller, but older, trees.
- “Spacing improvement” strategy: Removing selected larger trees to provide space for high quality “crop” trees to be retained for future growth.
In general, each harvest is an opportunity to upgrade overall stand quality by choosing which trees are left and how they are spaced. The bottom line: What you leave is more important than what you cut.
For example, we may commercially thin a stand as young as 35 years, returning three or four times until the stand is 80 or more years old and “target” diameters of 30 to 36 inches or more have been attained. We favor redwood in the post-harvest stand, but not to the exclusion of other species; we seek a natural ecological balance and biological diversity.
It is ultimately necessary to regenerate the stand to allow seedlings to make a fresh start. In most cases, we find that properly implemented single-tree selection provides adequate light for redwood sprouting. However, it may be necessary to remove trees in small groups (up to one quarter acre or more) to provide sufficient light to encourage Douglas-fir seedlings.
On better growing sites, we strive for an annual growth rate of 4 percent on standing inventories of 20,000 to 30,000 board feet per acre. This translates to 800 to1200 board feet per acre per year, the maximum sustained production on most Mendocino County timberlands.
As it may be possible to grow trees faster and cut trees sooner than we do, our management style does not necessarily maximize short-term net return. As previously stated, we are willing to accept less than optimum production to preserve other forest values.
The Parker Family Forest is concerned that there be both trees and income for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren. At the same time, they want to enjoy the immediate non-monetary benefits of an aesthetically pleasing and productive forest. These are the ultimate goals of our management philosophy.
Forest Statistics and Documentation
- Acreage: 2275
- Forest Type: coastal redwood
- Model Forest Manager: Linwood Gill, Blencowe Associates
- Primary Uses: timber, wildlife, aesthetics
- Certification: Logs FSC certified (via Blencowe Associates)
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