Managing the Mighty Oak: Do’s and Don’ts

Timber stand improvement (TSI) is the selecting of certain trees to cut while leaving others to grow. This management strategy can improve the health of the stand and increase the cash value of the timber, making it a win-win for wildlife and the landowner.

TSI improves the growth, timber quality and mast production of younger trees, because the practice allows more sunlight and nutrients to reach the remaining trees.

Healthier trees mean happier animals. Forest dwellers such as deer, turkeys, bears and other species consume the acorns and use the trees as nesting sites.

If you are looking to reap the benefits of TSI for your land and the wildlife that inhibits it, take a look at these Do’s and Don’ts of TSI to get started.

Don’t: focus on only increasing value to wildlife

Do: have a goal to improve timber production and manage the land for wildlife

Don’t: Select stands of oaks that won’t benefit much from TSI (trees 60 years or older)

Do: Target young stands (about 20 to 30 years old) with a mixture of white and red oak species

Don’t: Guess when it comes to properly identifying species and subspecies of trees

Do: Purchase a tree field guide or contact someone for assistance

Don’t: eliminate all non-oak species

Do: keep several varieties on your property, non-oak species are important for habitat diversity

Don’t: Keep every oak tree on your land

Do: Think about all 90 species of oaks that grow in this country and consider which oaks are best suited for an area based on its rainfall, moisture, soil, climate and slope

Don’t: Disregard your properties topography and which direction slopes face

Do: Consider the layout of your property because different oaks thrive in certain areas

Don’t: Just start cutting

Do: Analyze the entire stand before making decisions and hire a professional forester to develop a comprehensive plan for your entire property if you’re unsure about proper TSI practices

Don’t: (Or try not to) Practice TSI in summer, fall or spring

Do: Manage your property during the prime season, winter, because it is easier to analyze the traits and qualities of individual trees and less damage is done to surrounding trees when the foliage is absent

TSI is just one tool in practicing silviculture (a branch of forestry dealing with the development and care of forests to meet both natural and commercial needs.) Other parts of managing for wildlife could include controlled burning, removing invasive species and clear cutting.

Managing the mighty oak is extremely important in making land more wildlife friendly. TSI is one tool helping accomplish that.

For more information, about TSI contact the NRCS, USDA, local or state forestry departments or certified private foresters.

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