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Stages Of Forestry

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

The Stages of Forestry

September 22nd, 2020: An article written by Mark Moyer FFT & Victor Fobert


Curated information is derived from a combination of Forteck crew members with first-hand experience and verified online sources or government sites. We work very hard to provide quality educational information relevant to the forestry industry to promote forestry and the great things foresters can do. Please let us know if you find any misinformation and we will correct it immediately. It takes a village to educate! Thank you for reading and working together in further teaching people about forestry. #forestryproud


The forest industry is often split up into three stages:

  1. Pre-Harvest/Planning

  2. Harvest/Operations

  3. Post-Harvest/Silviculture

It is important that foresters understand, practice, and continually study these stages in forestry. The proper use of these stages will determine the future health, enjoyment, and sustainability of our forest for generations to come. The large majority of forestry in Canda is done on public Crown land which is in authoritative control by provincial and federal governments (Source). Each Province or Territory divides up their Crown land forest resources into Forest Management Agreements (FMA’s). This helps to ensure companies can better manage the forests and are held accountable. Please see this link for more information on FMA’s.

There are strict rules and regulations that private companies must follow when operating on Crown land to foster the continued success of our forests. For companies to successfully manage their forests, various tasks are undertaken. Below are some of these tasks that Forteck provides as services to our clients.

1. Pre-Harvest/Planning

  • Permanent sample plots (PSPs)

  • Vegetation resource inventory plots (VRI plots)

  • Layout

  • Temporary sample plots (TSPs)

  • Pre-harvest assessments

  • Crop development surveys

  • Dues relief surveys

  • Public consultation

When looking at a forest, whether it is a pine or spruce stand, aspen or balsam poplar, the public does not always know what work is occurring regularly to monitor the state of these trees, wildlife, and even the water. While trees are always growing and being affected by weather events, so too are the birds and the bees and all other woodlands creatures. Water is both a contributor and a recipient of these effects. Some of the work that can be done to monitor forest health include permanent sample plots (PSPs), vegetation resource inventory plots (VRI plots), or temporary sample plots (TSPs). These measurement plots capture data that allows forest operators to understand how the trees of the forest are doing at a specific point in time. When these measurements are repeated, patterns develop to show how the forest is changing over time.

Cutblock layout, pre-harvest assessments, and TSPs are all conducted before the harvest of the wood fiber by forest operators. How cutblocks are laid out are governed by regulations set forth by the government with input from various user and conservation groups, both with scientific backgrounds and years upon years of learning. There are quite a few instances when forest operators will take poor quality wood to their facilities, not just good wood. One of the primary reasons for doing this is so the forest can grow on a continual healthy cycle, projected up to 200 years in some jurisdictions, of continued sustainability, so multiple generations of our family can enjoy it.

2. Harvest/Operations

  • Timber scaling

Once the pre-defined area has been harvested, the wood must be measured to ensure how much fiber is being used. This is to ensure that the forest operators are not harvesting more fiber than what their plan says is available. It holds the operators accountable and ensures sustainability. These measurements are done using a method called timber scaling, which is a way to measure the volume of fiber found in each piece of wood that comes to a facility.

3. Post-Harvest/Silviculture

  • Coarse woody debris surveys

  • Post-harvest assessments 

  • Planting

  • Stocking surveys

  • Establishments surveys

  • Pre-commercial thinning

  • Mechanical thinning

  • Herbicide watercourse assessments

  • Herbicide application and monitoring

  • Performance Surveys

  • Pruning

  • Drone imagery

Following the harvest of the timber from the forest, a reset of sorts occurs. This is the opportunity to have the forest grow anew. A course woody debris survey is used in many places as a check to ensure that there is not too much fiber left behind on the block, but it serves another purpose, to see how many available nutrients are left behind for future forests. The larger debris can provide nutrients for a longer period. Branches, needles, and other smaller debris will give a more immediate nutrient surge to the regenerating forest. Post-harvest silviculture prescriptions are generally used to help ensure the plan for the future forest is correct.

By assessing factors such as soils, remaining litter layer, cone distribution, and suckering potential, foresters can build the best model of what is required to ensure the forest is productive and successful to the next rotation. Seedlings are generally needed in every cut block, but by identifying exactly where they need to go and what medium they need to grow in, will help establish their roots to become those mighty giants we all love to see when walking around the outdoors. An important part of doing reforestation is to continue doing checks and measurements. Yes, more measurements. Even the growing forest is monitored by regulations that must be met. These come in forms of surveys, typically done in grid patterns on the ground, or through visual checks from a helicopter. Both methods are viable, but they are subject to quality checks, as is most work in the forest industry.

Stand tending comes in many forms and is used to help promote the growth of the target species on the cutblock. Many companies have a herbicide program, which allows for the targeted removal of unwanted competition on a given area of a block. Mechanical thinning, with the use of a brush saw, is another form of stand tending, where targeted less desirable trees are removed to allow the healthier dominant trees to flourish.

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