Topic 2: Basic Practices of Silviculture

Background Information

Silvicultural practices are real world implementations of techniques related to seed transfer, seed production, seedling production, tree planting, tending, thinning, harvesting, and regeneration. The specific silvicultural techniques used depend on the circumstances. For instance if we start with an existing forest the main techniques we use might be thinning, harvesting and regeneration. If we start with bare land we will use techniques related to seed production, seedling production, tree planting, tending, thinning, harvesting and regeneration. While there are guiding principles and practices in silvicultural practices, their application will change depending on the site.   Site conditions, tree species and demands of local people are different in different countries and even areas of the same country therefore silvicultural practices might be different in each place. For instance, silvicultural practices in the US and Canada are different from those in China. Countries in temperate zones are different from those in tropical areas. I will introduce basic silvicultural practices however they should not be viewed as a rigid manual of operation but a set of guiding principles. Many of the techniques are described in simplified form that must be modified to accommodate the needs of a specific area. I encourage you to explore the topic on your own by applying these basic techniques to your local conditions. I encourage you to research the conditions in your community and think about ways you would apply these techniques if you were asked to practice there.

Video Lectures

View the following video lectures:

1.2.1 Seed production

1.2.2 Seedling Production Part I

1.2.3 Seedling Production Part II

1.2.4 Site preparation

1.2.5 Planting techniques

1.2.6 Tending, pruning and thinning

1.2.7 Harvesting and regeneration

Additional Resources

  1. Silviculture. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from
    This article explains some basic concepts and common methods in silviculture.
  1. Silviculture. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from
    This article introduces the history, processes, and harvesting systems of silviculture.
  1. Silvicultural systems guidebook. (1995). Retrieved from
    This Silvicultural Systems Guidebook will aid you to choose a silvicultural system. This process includes setting resource management objectives at the stand-level, goals of stand structure, and requirements for field data collection. Then the silvicultural system alternatives and the silvicultural system prescription are evaluated against the requirements of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act and higher-level plans. The Silvicultural Systems Guidebook promotes consistency in silvicultural terminology throughout British Columbia, as a common reference for silvicultural definitions and concepts.
  1. Plantation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from
    This article discusses the concept, growth cycle, criticism, and types of industrial plantations.
  1. Smith, D. M., Larson, B. C., Kelty, M. J., & Ashton, P. M. S. (1997). The practice of silviculture: applied forest ecology.New York, NY : Wiley. ISBN: 978-0-471-10941-9
    This book is intended to serve as a collection of ideas about silviculture and analytical approaches to its practices. It was written primarily for use in North America. However, the principles of silviculture are independent of geography, even though natural and socioeconomic diversity makes the application of the principles highly variable.

Self-test for Topic 2

Reflection Questions:

  1. What principle do you need to follow if you establish a forest using seeds from another location?
  2. Why is the genetic increment in a seed orchard higher than that in a seed production stand?
  3. What types of seedling will you select if planting in a dry site?
  4. How do you protect seedling viability after lifting and before planting?
  5. List the main factors influencing seedling survival after outplanting.
  6. What is the difference in site preparation methods between dry land and wet land?
  7. How do you avoid “J” root when planting?
  8. What kind of harvest methods would you use for a) timber forests and b) recreation forests?

After formulating your answers, you may post them online at the Knowledge Café for this course as a way to share your ideas and glean knowledge from other students’ responses.