Virtual Tour of the Forest: Old Hardwood

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This hardwood stand is 80 to 100 years old. At this age hardwood trees in the southeastern United States are less vigorous and may be more susceptible to insects and disease.

Having a diversity of forest types and ages keeps the forest healthy, helps reduce insect and disease problems and benefits a variety of wildlife.

All plants and trees eventually die. Forests can be kept healthy and growing through proper management. Occasionally this includes harvesting older trees or forests to make room for younger healthier ones.

Having a diversity of forest types and ages benefits a variety of wildlife. When forests are mature and are harvested the primary consideration should be creating conditions favorable for the development of a healthy new stand of trees.

Oaks and other trees are valuable for wildlife and as forest products such as lumber, paper and furniture. They must have full sunlight to grow. Often all the trees must be removed so full sunlight can reach the ground. Removing all the trees results in a stand of even aged trees like the young hardwoods described elsewhere in this program.

Mature stands can be harvested in several ways depending on the tree species, site conditions and landowner's objectives.

As trees die they attract insects which provide food for birds. Cavities provide shelter for animals such as squirrels, raccoons, and opossums.

As wood is broken down by fungi and bacteria, the organic matter and nutrients are released from the wood and work their way into the soil.

The nutrients are recycled and used by different plants. The plants compete for available nutrients, which means nutrient recycling in a forest ecosystem is very important.

Selective cutting of the large trees, in mature stands, leaves poorer quality and less valuable trees for the future. This type of cutting is called highgrading and is often done because of a higher immediate profit and not realizing partial harvest usually favors red maple and other less valuable species. A forester should be contacted to provide proper management recommendations.

Managing forest resources with sound advice from a professional forester is necessary to maintain overall forest health. Additional environmental values and economic benefits such as clean air, pure water, recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, and quality of life are sustained with wise management.

Help is available from your Virginia Department of Forestry. Our mission is to protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources for you.

Old Hardwood - Deferment Cut l Old Hardwood - Shelterwood Cut l Old Hardwood - Clearcut l Old Hardwood - Wildlife