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Seedling stand management

Featuring:Jaakko Eronen, Hämeen Metsätyö Oy

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Jaakko Eronen, Hämeen Metsätyö Oy

Seedling stand management

sustainable forestry

Seedling stand management is important for good forest growth.

Seedling stand refers to a young forest stand where commercial timber cannot yet be harvested. The health and success of a seedling stand predicts the future development of forest. Taking good care of the seedling stand pays off in decades to come with a highly-productive, well-growing forest.

The first step in seedling stand management is clearing. For Spruce and Pine stands, this is done when seedlings are 3-6 years old and about one metre in height. Conifers, because of their relatively slow growing pace, are especially at risk of being overwhelmed by faster growing deciduous trees and other vegetation during their early years. Clearing must be done in time to keep planted trees alive and growing well as much as possible.

After clearing, the seedling stand is thinned. This is usually done when trees are three to five metres tall. The target is to create a stand of the right density until the first commercial thinning. During the first years of new forest growth, a cultivated seedling stand is complemented by naturally regenerated trees. The stem number per hectare is often several thousands in this phase. During seedling stand thinning, the stem number is cut down radically to secure growth. A good mixture of different tree species with at least 20 percent broadleaf trees is targeted.

The early clearing of seedling stand can be done either manually with a clearing saw or mechanically with a special weeding machinery. Seedling stand thinning is always done manually.

Correct timing in seedling stand management is a critical factor for ensuring a stand’s productivity, as it affects the whole rotation cycle. It accelerates forest growth so the first commercial thinning can be done sooner. Proper seedling stand management also decreases the costs of silviculture and secures the investments done in forest regeneration.

Valuable habitats and other protected areas, such as buffer zones around water courses, are excluded from all forestry operations, including seedling stand management. Biodiversity is promoted in seedling stand management by leaving thickets for game and retention tree groups untouched. The immediate surroundings of deadwood trunks are also left untouched to preserve the microclimate around them. Rare tree species are saved.

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