Timber Harvesting Methods

Timber Harvesting Methods
The Siliconreview
12 October, 2020

When it comes to timber harvesting methods, there are 3 main practice groups that are used these days. These are selection systems, shelterwood, and clearcutting. Every single one is different and needs to be applied only to specific types of forests. However, they also have some things in common, like:

  • Wood fibre is provided for numerous everyday products.
  • Harvesting methods are enhancing the economic, social values, and ecological values of future forests.
  • Environmental conditions are established so that the forest’s natural regeneration is encouraged.

We also have other methods that can be used and are less common, like geophysical logging. But we should focus on the main ones.

Selection Harvesting

This is an oftentimes misunderstood harvesting system because it is very complex. As tree stands are overly dense, the health risks for the forest are increased. Basically, the trees that have a high potential to improve the forest’s character and quality are kept while high-risk trees are removed. Enough light is left so that individual tree vigour and health will be accelerated, all while seedlings are allowed to grow.

The bad part of this strategy is that it is possible that the wrong trees will be chosen.


This is very good for the forest types that have sprouts or seedlings that require full sunlight exposure. Buds and seeds respond very well to ground that is warmed. Such a light abundance can produce great growth. Clearcutting is great for some species, like paper birch, jack pine, and aspen.

We depend on our forests so clearcutting is often considered because it is an ecologically viable and economical option to reduce natural catastrophes negative effects.


Shelterwood is between visual extremes of selection management and clearcutting. The system removes the parent forest in different stages. Every single stage establishes optimum conditions for the environment in a successive way so that trees regenerate. The regeneration process is then nursed so that the part of the parent forest that remains can be harvested. White pine and red oaks are oftentimes harvested through shelterwood.

Timber harvest systems and forest management systems utilize quite a deep reservoir of experience and research when connected with forests. All the practices above are well-grounded. They use ecological sciences, even if many look the same for the casual observers.

Final Thoughts

People think that tree cutting is always bad. This is just a misconception that became culturally ingrained. At the end of the day though, wood is a completely renewable resource, a natural one that is better than most other raw materials. The processing and harvesting of wood products can easily make the impact on the environment minimal.

What many do not understand is that all trees die. Due to this, we need to utilize those methods that are the best for nature. In the US, every single person utilizes up to nine pounds of wood. This is done daily. What is very important is to implement strategies and techniques that are going to improve the regeneration of the wood that is harvested.