Second Growth

(Last Revised 10/18/2002)

MRC forestlands are largely covered by second and in some cases third growth forests. These forests demonstrate characteristics resulting from past forest uses which include attempts to convert to grazing as well as unsustainable forestry practices. Prior to the initial harvests that occurred in the mid 1800's, tree densities averaged around 50-60 trees per acre. The trees were large, evenly spaced, and exhibited huge canopies. Today, it's common to encounter stands of second growth that have 150-250 trees per acre. These are usually densely clumped around the parent stump (genetically identical sprouts from the parent old growth tree). Without further forest management, these forests would undergo little change over the next two hundred to three hundred years.

Trees in these stands compete against one another for light, nutrients and water. This results in a slowing of growth in all the trees over time and general stand stagnation. These conditions will often prevail indefinitely if left unmanaged. Under these stand conditions, species habitat from larger trees with complex structure and development of large trees for input into the stream systems is lacking.

Periodic thinning of second and third growth stands is an important method for developing more favorable and diverse habitat across MRC forestlands. Proper management of second growth forests will accelerate the development of forest stand conditions containing larger trees with bigger crowns at densities that more closely resemble those of the old growth forest. At a landscape scale, MRC monitors and plans for continual improvement of stand structure and species habitat development.