Within the 120 hectare (300 acre) Holt Research Forest, we selected a 40 hectare (100 acre) study area. The study area is located on the eastern half of the property, between Old Stage Road to the west and the Back River to the east. We divided the study area into 40 one-hectare (0.4 acre) blocks, then subdivided each block resulting in 160 50×50 meter quadrats, and 640 25×25 meter subquadrats. We bisected the study area along a north-south line into a “managed” half on the west and a “control” half on the east. We also established “buffer” blocks around the study area.
In the winter of 1987-88, we randomly selected and harvested 10 of the 1-ha blocks on the managed side. This harvest removed 44% of the basal area, including many large, poorly formed trees. It created openings in the canopy–harvest gaps–to release advanced regeneration and encourage new regeneration, thereby adding a new age class the forest. See Research – Forest Canopy Gaps for more details.
Thus we were on our way to meeting our forest management objectives to
- increase structural habitat diversity by adding a new vertical layer of vegetation, and
- arrive at a more balanced age-class distribution to generate an even flow of forest products over time.
We believed that the small gap sizes minimized loss of near-term aesthetic appeal while enhancing the beauty of the forest over the long run. Subsequent monitoring and research on both the managed and control sides is giving us data to interpret the effects of forest management on various ecosystem components.