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:: Home > Forests and Timber > Reproduction Methods > Uneaven-aged Management

With many different opinions on how forests should be managed, forest managers and scientists are studying new ways of cutting trees and reproducing forest stands. In addition to new clearcutting and shelterwood systems, uneven-aged management is one of the methods being tested and studied.

Basically, the uneven-aged method means that we selectively remove the largest and oldest trees at several different times in the life of a forest stand. The forest worker in the picture is standing on the stump of a harvested tree! We remove the trees either individually or in small groups, and the result of the cuttings is that the forest regenerates with small groups of trees after each large tree or group of larger trees is removed. Using this method, each forest stand would have differently sized and aged trees all of the time and forever, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Uneven-aged management is an option for some land managers, in some situations. For example, selective cutting works well in areas where environmental conditions are harsh, like hot and dry forests and frost-prone subalpine forests— the constant tree cover can moderate the temperature and moisture extremes for these sites. However, it is currently not clear if we can realistically use uneven-aged management in forests of tree species that grow best in the open and are intolerant of shade, like Douglas-fir.

Experiments are currently underway that will help us understand how, and if, uneven-aged management can be successfully used in the Douglas-fir region of Oregon, and how this method compares to clearcutting, both economically, and environmentally. What is most important is that we always look for options, and that our management options provide us with ways of protecting the natural resource while being able to harvest trees in a socially acceptable way. Uneven-aged management is one reproduction method that could provide us with such an option.