A status report on silviculture in the South—amazing successes, and challenges that remainThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Over the past century, foresters in the Southern United States have achieved remarkable success in the practice of silviculture. Key elements of success include learning how to plant southern pines, which gave rise to genetic improvement and cultural practices that have placed short-rotation planted pine stands on a quarter of the South’s timberlands. A second element was the application of conservative silvicultural practices, including uneven-aged methods in southern pines, to help recover cutover but partially stocked stands. Both these advances contributed to retaining industrial forestry capacity in the South through the middle of the 20th century, with the result today that the South has become the “woodbasket” of the Nation. Other key silvicultural advances were the success in applying seed-tree and shelterwood methods in pines, shelterwood methods in oaks, and restoration of prescribed fire which has helped recover open fire-adapted pinedominated forests and woodlands across the South. Despite these successes, the South faces silvicultural challenges in the 21st century within the realm of economics, ecological issues, and social concerns. It’s certainly an exciting time, and a challenging one, for foresters in the first decade of their careers.