Managing mixed stands for southern forest landowners: three family stories for decision-making assistance
Mixed-stand management (MSM) involves growing of pine and hardwood trees in the same stand (Figure 1). You may be familiar with pine plantations, which have been successful across the southeastern United States due to logistical simplicity, silvicultural advancements, pine genetic improvements, and the past existence of a vibrant pulp industry region wide. While plantation management continues to be an attractive management strategy to many landowners, changing social, biological, and economic conditions may make MSM a viable alternative for landowners looking to accomplish a broader set of management objectives. For example, MSM might be feasible when traditional plantation management (planting 600 pine trees per acre) is no longer economically feasible (for instance, due to lack of pulp mills or small tract size), site limitations or issues (percent slope, site quality, etc.), when broader sets of ecosystem services are desired, or when the landowner’s values, risk aversion, and objectives do not fit well with pine plantation management.