Forest Health and Management
Forest management improves the condition of forests, allowing new trees to establish and existing trees to grow more vigorously. This promotes biodiversity, making forests healthier, more resilient, and adaptable to change.
To promote forest health through management, one must understand the threats to forest health. These include, but are not limited to:
the introduction and spread of invasive insects and plants
excessive herbivory (one result of the overpopulation of white-tailed deer)
altered natural disturbance regimes
land-use change and fragmentation
shifts in species ranges
Forestry can make it possible for landowners to keep their forests as forests while improving forest health and function.
In fact, without management, Southern New England would have fewer tree species, fewer animal species and pollinators, a weaker economy, and fewer sustainable resources.
Forest management often mimics natural disturbances in a controlled way. Disturbances, such as extreme weather events, are vital for healthy ecosystem function. Natural disturbances vary in size, frequency, and intensity. They influence tree health, species mix, wildlife populations, and carbon accumulation dynamics. Various forest management practices increase the biological and structural diversity of a forest. These practices promote a forest's ability to adapt to change and recover from natural disturbances.
Forest management practices can be tailored to improve forest health and biodiversity, resilience, and adaptability. Reducing harvest frequency and favoring high levels of structural retention, for example, can sequester up to 57% more carbon in northern hardwood-conifer forests (Nunery and Keeton 2010). Managing forests for structural complexity in mixed northern hardwood forests of eastern North America has been found to increase elements of late-successional biodiversity (Dove and Keeton 2015; Gottesman and Keeton 2017; McKenny et al. 2006) and carbon storage (Ford and Keeton 2017) while, at the same time, providing wood products from timber harvests (Nunery and Keeton 2010).