October 19th 2017 Growing A Diverse Forest

October 19th 2017

Growing A Diverse Forest

By Lee Peterman

Brad Withrow-Robinson

OSU Extension Forestry & Natural Resources Extension
It was a dark and stormy night on October 19th, as Brad Withrow-Robinson; OSU Extension Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent gave a woodland talk about ways to enhance and diversify woodland property for wildlife habitat and aesthetic values. So dark and stormy in fact, that only a few brave and hardy souls were in attendance to gain knowledge on aspects and methods to diversify private woodlands through a slide presentation and lively Q&A session of the "Cookie-Theory" of forest diversity.
What, the reader may ask, is the "Cookie-Theory" of forest diversity? During the talk, Brad W-R postulated that enhancing diversity in private woodlands is akin to observing cookies; in that a stand of trees might be of a homogenous species -- such as a recently replanted-after-harvest stand of Douglas-fir and that in this theme, would be equated to a plain, serviceable oatmeal cookie. Yet, if a landowner were to replant or add a different species, say Ponderosa Pine, well then, that could still equate to an oatmeal cookie, but now with raisins! Simultaneously adding diversity and interest, not to mention potential future value to the stand.
Expanding on the theme, woodlands owners should not be bound to the idea that forest diversity is only to be thought of in terms of species; Douglas-fir, Grand Fir, Ponderosa Pine, but also in layers, or put another way, in both a horizontal as well as a vertical component. To illustrate further the cookie theory, a landowner should consider layers of the forest like an Oreo cookie, different heights of trees and shrubs in varying ages, or levels, to provide for a wildlife habitat component as well as an eye-pleasing variety of colors and shapes. Aesthetics are as important for some landowners as production of future timber harvests and laser-straight rows of even aged trees are really rather boring!
During his talk, Brad also brought up that diversity is usually brought about by disturbances -- such as harvesting, fire, snow or ice damage or insect infestations and these are not necessarily bad things; he also emphasized (and was backed up by certain attendees) the point that not every square foot of ground should have a tree planted on it; heresy to some and shocking to most in the small woodlands community, yet learned the hard way through trial and error as well as considerable effort, not to mention cost, that some ground just won't grow a tree ! Forest landowners should consider leaving space for meadows and pollinators as well as shrubs and grasses -- take time for the flowers... and birds. Lastly, that not every green and growing thing should be doused with herbicides, good stewards and managers should think it through and to plant wisely after observing the area in question, so as to save time, effort and especially money!
To close his presentation, Brad summed up the slide-show with these thoughts: Forest-land stewards should consider: Enhancing diversity by preserving what is already there. Enriching the site for what's missing; Giving space to meadows for wildlife habitat and do Battle with invasives ! He also reminded those present that in most cases with new woodlands owners or those woodlands left alone out of benign neglect, that to encourage and enhance diversity, good stewards should learn and memorize his mantra: "Thin early, thin often"! And think of cookies...
Thanks to the OSU Extension in Tangent for hosting the presentation.
by: Leland (Lee) Peterman
Vice Pres. Linn County Chapter Small Woodlands Assoc.


(Disclaimer: No baked goods were harmed, or even present, to be eaten by attendees, or used as examples; save pictures thereof projected on the wall during the slide-show. )

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