Stand Tending

Stand tending is a subset of silviculture that includes a variety of forest treatments, including pre-commercial thinning, fertilizing, pruning and commercial thinning, which are carried out to maintain a healthy forest and to increase the quality and quantity of timber produced.

Production of healthy, well-managed forest stands can also improve wildlife habitat for some species. In addition to the publications listed below, other reports, training material and products are available. Stand tending research reports and extension material are available through the Silviculture Systems and Forest Dynamics webpage.

Forest Fertilization

Although other silviculture treatments may redistribute volume and/or increase piece size and value, fertilization is the most proven method for increasing harvest volume and accelerating the operability of established stands. As such, fertilization is widely viewed by forest managers and practitioners as a potentially valuable tool for mitigating "pinch points" in the mid-term timber supply caused by age class imbalances, and for increasing long term harvest levels.


Pruning of lower branches of trees in plantations and in pre-commercially thinned stands can increase stand value by reducing the size of the knotty core, thereby increasing the amount and proportion of more valuable clear (knot free) wood. Dimensional lumber that is "clear" of knots and defects has historically commanded premium prices on world markets. Pruning may also improve log and lumber value by speeding the change from lower value juvenile wood to higher value mature wood and by reducing stem taper.

Pre-Commercial Thinning or Spacing

Terminology such as "juvenile thinning," "juvenile spacing," "spacing" and "pre-commercial thinning" generally refers to cuttings made in immature stands with the objective of reducing stand density in order to stimulate the growth of the remaining crop. Thinning affects the size and growth of individual trees and also the growth per unit area of the stand itself. The timing and intensity of juvenile thinning has large potential impacts on the amount, size and value of timber harvested from managed forests and on biological and technical rotation lengths. By preventing, or alleviating, height repression, juvenile thinning in extremely dense stands may provide a more reliable estimate of site potential as represented by site index.

Commercial Thinning and Partial Cutting

Commercial thinning is an intermediate harvest where the merchantable wood removed should cover part or all of the cost of harvesting. It is defined as a thinning in which all or part of the felled trees are extracted for useful products. Commercial thinning, when carried out on the right stands at the right time under appropriate stand conditions, is a valuable strategic management tool that increases the flexibility in the timing and quantity of wood flow available at the forest estate level.