Cutting trees is an important management tool landowners can use to enhance the health and biodiversity of their woodlot. However, for this tool to be effective it must be done in a manner that is consistent with good forestry practices. This can be best achieved through a good tree-marking plan (prescription) and tree marking.
Tree marking involves the careful selection of trees for harvest (under a partial cutting system), based on a forest management prescription. The decisions made by a tree marker are complex -- part art and part science. The tree marker must assess each individual tree and give consideration to a number of variables (e.g., regeneration, tree health, site conditions, wildlife habitat, diversity and the overall forest objectives) before a final decision is made whether to leave the tree or mark it to be cut. It is important to understand that the selection process is not just based on tree size.
Prescription describes a series of actions to be taken to meet the management objectives (e.g., improve growth and quality of the forest, ensure regeneration, provide wildlife habitat, etc.) for a specific area based on an assessment and inventory of that area. In Ontario, provincial legislation requires that the development (or approval) of a prescription is the responsibility of a Registered Professional Forester, or an Associate Member, of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association.
Regeneration: A tree marker can mark your woodlot in a manner that will maintain a healthy woodlot while ensuring that a new forest of desirable species grows after cutting.
Tree health, vigour, genetics and site conditions: Evaluating a tree’s health, vigour and its future growing potential can be tricky. This is because not all trees are created equal, and a small tree is not always a younger tree. The size of a tree may be due to poor genetics, stunted growth or site characteristics. It takes experience to tell the difference, and an experienced tree marker can provide you with this expertise.
Wildlife habitat: Tree markers can identify the trees in your woodlot that should be retained to provide valuable wildlife habitat and to maintain biodiversity (e.g., mast and cavity trees).
Long-term sustainability: Tree marking, based on sound forest management principles, will optimize your economic return, enhance future timber quality and quantity and has the capacity to ensure the long-term sustainability of your woodlot.
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