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Patuxent Science Meeting 2006 Poster Abstract

Proposed "Desired Forest Condition" for bottomland forests

Forest Resource Conservation Working Group, Lower Mississippi Valley Joint


Although it has long been recognized that forest management impacts wildlife habitat, only

recently have forest management objectives been articulated that explicitly address priority

wildlife needs in bottomland forests. To facilitate development of forest management guidelines

that reflect habitat needs of priority wildlife species and long-term forest sustainability, the

Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture (LMVJV) Forest Resource Working Group took on the

challenge proposing forest metrics that provide habitat conditions favorable for priority wildlife

species. Specifically, our objective was to develop recommendations to clearly articulate

desired forest conditions that meet the habitat requirements of priority wildlife species at

multiple spatial scales. We recommend forests within suitable landscapes provide vertical and

horizontal structural diversity in terms of tree species, size and age classes, and growth forms

(e.g., trees, shrubs, and vines) within a heterogeneous forest canopy comprised of gaps and a

complex layering (i.e., desired stand conditions). As many forest interior wildlife species

flourish under habitat conditions associated with these complex forest structures, we

emphasize the need to increase the availability of these forest conditions and although little

empirical data exist upon which to draw, we believe that these desired stand conditions can be

achieved through the use of prescribed silvicultural practices. By focusing their management

actions on forest stand conditions, managers are able to ensure that prescribed treatments

address habitat needs of priority wildlife. Within a forest stand, managers historically have used

a set of primary forest metrics (e.g., basal area, tree stocking) to define forest management

needs in terms of forest density, health and economic quality. We have employed these

primary forest metrics and a suite of additional (secondary) forest metrics (e.g., tree cavity and

standing dead tree densities) to guide managers in discerning the need for forest treatments to

sustain important wildlife habitat characteristics. Recognizing that it is impractical to identify

exact values for these metrics, each management factor is represented by a range of values, as

well as, the extent of deviation from these desired conditions that may warrant prescribed forest

management. We advocate use of a combination of practices such as thinning and group

selection harvests to reduced basal area and tree stocking, promote multi-layered canopies,

and increase mid-story development, thereby addressing primary management factors.

Additionally, secondary management factors can be addressed through management by

ensuring that prescribed treatments promote development of dominant trees, cavity retention,

Friday, September 22, 2006

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