What You Will Learn (Part 5)

After completing this chapter you should be able to:

  • find additional training for silvicultural systems and related topics
  • find key reference sources on silvicultural systems.

Additional Training

Nothing beats face-to-face training with knowledgeable trainers, specialists, and other practitioners who have a range of experiences.

If you are interested in face-to-face training, contact a resource practices specialist: 

Vernon Forest District Demonstration Areas

In 1994-95, the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program in the Ministry of Forests Vernon Forest District developed four silvicultural systems demonstration areas to provide a hands-on learning experience for visiting forestry practitioners. Self-guiding tour booklets were created to direct you to these areas and guide you through some learning experiences and discussion points at a variety of sites in each demonstration area.

Other Demonstration and Research Areas

While research projects are currently underway throughout the province, here are some notable areas which you may want to visit.

Kamloops - The Ministry of Forests, Kamloops Forest Region, developed the Opax Silvicultural Systems Research Area (northwest of Kamloops) and the Sicamous Creek Silvicultural Systems Research Area (east of Salmon Arm) to investigate and demonstrate ecological, biological, and management issues while using a variety of silvicultural systems. The focus is the impact of gap size on a variety of issues. The Opax area is located in the Interior Douglas-fir zone, while the Sicamous Creek area focuses on the Engelmann Spruce - Subalpine Fir zone.

Nelson - The Ministry of Forests, Nelson Forest Region, developed the West Arm Demonstration Forest on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, close to Nelson. This project demonstrates a range of silvicultural systems carefully planned at the landscape level to meet a range of objectives and ecological considerations.

Prince George - The Ministry of Forests, Prince George Forest Region, developed several silvicultural systems trials at Aleza Lake (east of Prince George) and at Lucille Mountain (near McBride). These trials illustrate issues in sub-boreal spruce forests and old redcedar/hemlock stands, using a range of partial cutting silvicultural systems.

Smithers - The Ministry of Forests, Prince Rupert Forest Region, developed a number of projects near Smithers and at Date Creek, near Hazelton, demonstrating a range of silvicultural systems in sub-boreal spruce and old hemlock stands.

Williams Lake - The Ministry of Forests, Cariboo Forest Region, developed several group selection demonstration and research areas east of Williams Lake in the Engelmann Spruce - Subalpine Fir zone near Quesnel Lake. Also, they have developed an area at Knife Creek (south of Williams Lake) to demonstrate their mule deer winter range guidelines which encourage harvesting using uneven-aged management techniques in the interior Douglas-fir zone. The Alex Fraser UBC Research Forest (east of Williams Lake) has also established several demonstration areas for shelterwood and selection systems in Douglas-fir and redcedar/hemlock stands.

Vancouver - Montane Alternative Silvicultural Systems (MASS) - Montane forests have a winter snowpack and are found between 700 and 1100 metres in elevation on central Vancouver Island. The MASS partnership is a multi-agency cooperative testing new approaches to harvesting and regeneration. It builds upon knowledge and expertise gained in over 20 years of silvicultural and ecological research and operations in this forest type (Arnott and Pendl 1994; Arnott et al. 1995).

The objectives of the MASS project are to:

  • Test alternative silvicultural systems for coastal montane forests.
  • Document the operational costs and feasibility.
  • Study the biological and silvicultural impacts.

The Roberts Creek study forest on the Sunshine Coast was set up to compare management of lower elevation Douglas-fir ecosystems. Project information is available on the web site at:  https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/rco/research/silv/roberts_creek.htm


This booklet just scratches the surface of the topic of silvicultural systems. The body of literature on silvicultural systems is exhaustive. However, scan the list of references in Appendix 3 and try to expand your library to include some of these publications. Here are a few comments on some of the better textbooks:

The Practice of Silviculture (1986)
by David Smith
A favourite of many. The chapters covering silvicultural systems demonstrate a depth of experience, both operational and academic, which spans several countries and climates. The theoretical is tempered by realistic observations and experiences.

Silvicultural Systems (1989)
by John Mathews
A comprehensive compendium of the classic silvicultural systems from the European experience, with some observations on applications in North America and the tropics.

Silviculture Concepts and Applications (1996)
by Ralph Nyland
Nyland takes some of the topics and concepts discussed by Smith and Mathews and updates them with issues and considerations from the 1990s. The conceptual basis for silviculture and silvicultural systems is well covered. Also, anyone interested in uneven-aged management and selection systems - Mr. Nyland's specialties - will find lots of useful information here.

Forest Stand Dynamics (1990/revised 1996)
by Chadwick Oliver and Bruce Larson
Still a classic. You can't properly prescribe silvicultural systems without a solid understanding of stand dynamics. This book should be a prerequisite for anyone manipulating stand structure at the stand level. The 1996 edition includes more recent information on climate change, multi-cohort (uneven-aged) stands, mixed-species stands, pruning, and stand edges. It also includes more global references to reinforce the concept that similar patterns and processes occur in stands worldwide.

The Ecology and Silviculture of Mixed Species Forests (1992)
by Kelty, Larson and Oliver
Although weighty in its scientific writing, this book tackles the most challenging topic for silvicultural systems - management of species mixtures. Do not be put off by the numerous case studies from Europe and the tropics. You will find some nuggets of wisdom where you least expect them.

The retention system: reconciling variable retention with the principles of silvicultural systems (2002)
S.J. Mitchell and William J. Beese
This document provides an understanding of the retention system as practiced in B.C. and where it fits within the traditional systems.

The rest of the references in Appendix 3 will be of interest, depending on where you practice. Remember, however, to continue returning to the textbooks now and then to re-ground yourself in silvicultural systems. Government policies, short-term economics, and local politics can easily cause you to lose the perspective that is so important to silvicultural systems.

As you accumulate publications, don't just place them like trophies on your bookshelf - read them. Don't believe everything they have to say. Continue to ask questions. Observe nature and place extracted gems of wisdom from others in context with what you are seeing on the ground.