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Group Selection Cutting for the Landowner Education is the Key


... easily remove them using a small forwarder, farm tractor, or horses and oxen ... forest (or you can use a farm tractor, or horse and oxen depending on tree size) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Group Selection Cutting for the Landowner Education is the Key

Group Selection Cutting for the Landowner
Education is the Key
Roger Monthey USDA Forest Service Northeastern
Area State and Private Forestry
Gordon Moore, District Forester for the Maine
Forest Service, talks to landowners and
foresters. Note the hazard tree in the
background, which will be removed as a
demonstration of one method to remove the tree
Why group selection cutting?
  • According to Lamson and Leak (2000)
  • Group selection cutting closely mimics natural,
    small-scale disturbances in eastern forests
  • Most landowners wont allow clearcutting because
    of its effect on esthetics, but cutting small
    groups of trees can improve esthetics and
    diversify a solid landscape
  • 3) Group selection is an uneven-aged
    regeneration system that produces a sustainable
    income every 1520 years

Lamson and Leak. 2000. Guidelines for applying
group selection harvesting. NATP0200. U.S.
Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry.
Why group selection cutting? (cont.)
  • Light cutting, such as single tree selection,
    regenerates shade-tolerant species such as beech
    and sugar maple
  • Regeneration following clearcutting is composed
    of predominately shade-intolerant species such as
    paper birch and aspen
  • Moderate cutting, such as group selection cuts,
    can favor intermediately shade tolerant species
    such as yellow birch, red oak, and white ash
  • By varying the group size, the amount of light
    reaching the forest floor is increased or
    decreased, which influences which species
    successfully regenerate

Group Selection Cutting Promotes Development of
Intermediately Tolerant Tree Regeneration
White Ash
Northern Red Oak
Yellow Birch
Where are groups located?
  • Most hardwood stands are actually composed of
    natural groups of trees that lend themselves to
    group selection
  • Mature trees can be harvested in groups
  • Groups of diseased trees can be harvested to
    improve stand composition

Size of the Opening
  • 1) The typical recommendation is twice the height
    of adjacent trees. If the adjacent trees are
    75 feet tall, the diameter of the opening would
    be 150 feet.
  • 2) However, Lamson and Leak (2000) state that
    group selection has been successful when cutting
    areas as large as 2 acres in size technically
    there is no upper limit to the size as long as
    groups are not recognized, mapped, or retreated
    as individual stands.
  • 3) The percentage of intolerant species (e.g.,
    paper birch and aspen) and intermediate species
    (e.g., yellow birch, red oak, and white ash)
    increases with group size.

Should small trees be cut?
  • If the goal is to encourage maximum amounts of
    regeneration from seed or stump sprouts within
    groups, then all stems larger than 2 inches in
    diameter at breast height should be cut.

Do you thin between the groups?
  • Thinning the stand between the groups is the
    normal procedure when applying group selection
  • It can provide the volume needed for a commercial
    timber sale when there is insufficient volume in
    the group cuts.
  • It is generally recommended to leave a residual
    basal area between the groups of about 70 square
    feet/acre, excluding the new groups. It is also
    recommended that 4050 square feet/acre of the
    residual basal area be left in sawtimber to
    ensure that there will be adequate volume for
    future cuts.

Wildlife Considerations
  • Group selection cutting creates a range of
    wildlife habitats, from newly regenerated groups
    to mature forest. It provides browse, cover, and
    nesting sites.
  • Group size and shape can be varied to produce
    habitats for a wide variety of wildlife species.

Impact of Group Selection Cutting on Breeding
Bird Populations
  • Group selection cutting has a moderate impact on
    breeding bird populations.
  • One study showed that recent clearcuts, early
    group selection cuts, and mature stands were used
    by 46, 33, and 30 species, respectively.
  • Only a few bird species were found in mature,
    unmanaged stands that were not found in the group
    selection areas (Costello 1995).

Two Different Methods to Achieve a Group
Selection Cut
  • Use larger, mechanized equipment such as a feller
    buncher to achieve your result more safely and
    efficiently, and use a rubber-tired grapple
    skidder to haul whole trees to the landing for
  • Use a chain saw to directionally fell trees where
    you can more easily remove them using a small
    forwarder, farm tractor, or horses and oxen

I. Use of Feller Buncher to Create Group
Selection Openings Most Efficient Method
Using a feller buncher is the most efficient
method to create openings when compared to the
chainsaw/forwarder method illustrated later in
this report.
Group Selection Opening Created by a Feller
Goals for this opening included improving ruffed
grouse habitat and regenerating desired tree
species, such as red oak, yellow birch, and white
Vegetation Development Two Years After a Group
Selection Cut
Regeneration primarily consists of northern red
oak, bigtooth aspen, hazelnut, red maple,
American beech, and Rubus sp.
Trees Moved to a Landing Using a Grapple Skidder
A grapple skidder was used to pull whole trees
from the group selection opening to the landing
on flagged skid trails.
Best Management Practices Applied to Skid Trails
and Stream Crossings
Temporary bridge installed over a small stream to
reduce erosion.
Slashings placed on a skid trail to reduce
Log Landing
At the log landing, logs were sorted into
sawlogs, pulpwood, and biomass chips based on
tree species, quality, and markets.
II. Use of Chain Saw to Create Opening Small
Equipment or Small-Scale Harvesting
  • Harvesting individual trees using a chain saw
    directional felling into openings
  • Using a small-tracked forwarder to winch
    tree-length logs out of the opening or adjacent
    forest (or you can use a farm tractor, or horse
    and oxen depending on tree size)
  • Hoisting tree-length logs to a forwarder with a
    grapple and hauling them to a landing
  • Demonstration of removing a hazard tree with a
    chain saw and loader

Sizing up the Tree for Directional Falling into
the Opening
A Certified Professional Logger examines the tree
prior to felling to reduce the safety hazard.
Falling the tree along the edge of the opening
makes it easier for the forwarder to pick it up.
The First Two Cuts Face Cut
Photo by Peter Smallidge, Cornell Cooperative
FACE CUTa section of wood sawn and removed from
a tree's base. Its removal allows the tree to
fall and helps direct where it will fall. The
face is comprised of two separate cuts that have
constant relationships the horizontal cut must
be at least one-third the diameter of the tree,
the sloping cut must be angled enough to allow a
wide opening, and the two cuts must not cross
each other.
The Third Cut
After the Fourth Cut Using the Wedge
Successful Felling Following the Fifth Cut
Evaluating the Cut
The Hinge
Equipment to Haul Tree-length Logs to the Landing
Small-tracked Forwarder
Winching Tree-length Logs (From Trees Growing
Adjacent to the Opening) to the Small-tracked
Hoisting Tree-length Logs Onto the Forwarder With
a Loader
Hauling Tree-length Logs to the Landing
Removing Hazard Trees With a Loader and Chain Saw
While the hazard tree is being held by the
loader, the certified logger evaluates the
breakage point on the stem for his cut. The upper
part of the stem, not shown, is wedged into a
branching fork of a red oak tree.
The hazard tree has been cut and released by the
loader. Next, the tree will be grabbed by the
loader higher up on the stem and pushed to the
ground by the loader.
Farm Tractor and Winch Another Method to Haul
Logs to the Landing
Photo by Merle Ring, Maine Forest Service
And Another Method to Haul Logs to the Landing-
Photo from Merle Ring, Maine Forest Service
  • Contact
  • USDA Forest Service
  • Northeastern Area
  • State and Private Forestry
  • 271 Mast Road
  • Durham, NH 03824
  • Or visit

Special thanks to Gordon Moore and Merle Ring of
the Maine Forest Service, and Maggie Eckardt of
the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine.
The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and
All photos by Roger Monthey unless indicated