Maintaining attributes of old-growth forests in coastal B.C. through variable retention

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Beese, William J.
Dunsworth, B.G.
Zielke, K.
Bancroft, B.
Variable retention is a new approach to harvesting and silvicultural systems that was developed by ecologists in the Pacific Northwest region of North America to address a wide array of forest management goals. Variable retention recognizes that natural disturbances, such as fire, wind or disease, nearly always leave some standing structure from the original forest. This structural complexity plays an important role in forest ecosystem function and biological diversity. A new "retention silvicultural system" was defined that leaves trees distributed throughout harvested areas. This system facilitates retention of structural features of old-growth forests, such as live and dead trees of varying sizes, multiple canopy layers, and coarse woody debris. Weyerhaeuser's British Columbia Coastal Group will use the variable retention approach for all harvesting by 2003. More than 75% of the company's coastal harvesting in British Columbia used variable retention in 2001. Company guidelines describe the amount, type, and spatial distribution of retention for groups and individual trees. An adaptive management program is monitoring the amount and type of structural attributes retained in relation to the original forest.
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