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Determining Which Trees to Cut

      The selection of trees to be harvested should always be done with the advice of a professional forester. Timber cutting is the principal tool for managing the character of a forest and for creating the proper environment to ensure its regeneration. Forests can be harvested using a variety of methods ranging from cutting all of the trees in a particular area (clearcutting) to selecting and cutting individual trees throughout the stand (selection harvest). The appropriate method for your particular forest depends on the character of that forest and your specific ownership objectives. Selection of the proper method and trees to harvest will ensure that the harvest will satisfy your objectives and maintain the woodland in a healthy, vigorous, and productive condition.     

Regenerating jack pine clearcut

Selectively managed northern hardwoods



BEWARE of timber buyers who offer to "selectively cut" your woodland, removing only the trees they want, assuring you they will leave plenty of trees for the future stand. Such cutting, referred to as "high-grading," most commonly results in the removal of all or almost all of the marketable trees, leaving an understocked stand of less valuable trees in poor condition. High-grading removes not only all of the current value from a stand, but much or all of its future value for decades to come. This deprives you of much future income that would have been generated by the growth of trees that should have been left uncut. And, the remaining forest has usually been so heavily and indiscriminately cut that its potential for satisfying non-economic ownership objectives has been greatly reduced.

BEWARE of timber buyers offering to buy all of the trees above a certain diameter, usually specified or understood (at least by them) to be at stump height. While there are very limited situations where such a diameter-limit cut would be appropriate, in most instances, diameter-limit cutting is just another form of high-grading and will have the same disastrous results.




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This website is maintained by Bill Cook, Michigan State University Extension Forester in the Upper Peninsula.  Comments, questions, and suggestions are gratefully accepted. 
Last update of this page was 12 February, 2014



This site is hosted by School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University.

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