and Second Growth > Page 2 of 2
is forest that grows up after a disturbance leads to
trees being replaced. This disturbance can be human-caused
like logging or a forest fire, or it can be a "natural"
disturbance such as an insect infestation or a wildfire.
Second growth is dominated by trees that are younger
than what are typically found in old growth, and it
often, but not always, lacks characteristics such as
a many-layered canopy, large snags, and large downed
wood both on the ground and in the streambeds.
If allowed to grow, second growth will
eventually turn into old growth as the trees mature
and the forest begins to develop old growth characteristics.
Key features of an old growth
- large trees
- several vertical canopy layers
(ie. understory, mid-story, overstory)
- openings in canopy created
by fallen trees
- standing dead trees, called
- lots of large, rotting wood
on forest floor
Comparative features of an
even-aged second growth forest:
- younger, smaller trees of similar
- a single canopy layer (trees
of similar heights)
- solid canopy; generally few
- few, if any, snags
- fewer, smaller-sized rotting
wood on forest floor
As the forest landowner or the forester
charged with managing the forest, we can manage second growth
stands to include old growth characteristics. We can leave
and/or create snags for certain types of wildlife during
harvest. We can leave and/or create large downed wood on
the forest floor and in the streams for more structure and
habitat. We can leave large trees, and thin smaller trees
to encourage the growth of the remaining trees and the shrubs
and trees in the "understory".
These management decisions are usually
made for each harvest unit, depending on the many different
characteristics that make each forest stand unique, and
depending on the needs of the land manager. The decision
reflects our need for the wood in the trees and our need
for a healthy forest!