Reforestation is the basic building block of forest sustainability. Trees are a renewable resource, but only if they are replaced with a new crop after harvest. Some forests naturally regenerate on their own, while others are artificially regenerated by direct seeding or planting seedlings by hand or machine. Genesis can assist you with reforestation planning before your timber sale is arranged so the harvest can be designed to meet your reforestation objectives. If natural regeneration is desired it is important to determine if an adequate seed source exists for the desired species. Proper planning increases your chances of making sure that the site regenerates with the desired species for their management objectives (what you want to achieve with your forest), the appropriate species for the existing site conditions (bottomland wet site vs. upland dry site) and that the new trees are properly spaced (not too thick or too scattered) so that the area is fully stocked.
The seed tree method is most commonly used for natural regeneration for loblolly pine in the Southeast. Prior to harvest, a select number of trees should be selected to be left as producers of seed for the next stand. The number of trees to be left as seed producers depends on the seed production for the species and degree of competition. Seed trees can later be harvested when adequate regeneration is established. Another common method, known as the shelterwood method, differs from the seed tree method in that more trees per acre are left as seed source. This method is preferred for species such as longleaf pine where establishment of adequate regeneration may occur over a longer time period. By leaving more trees, the seed source is increased and the overstory serves as a shelter for the developing reproduction. The overstory should be removed as soon as adequate regeneration is established.
Planting of bare root seedlings grown in a nursery is the most common form of artificial regeneration for Southern pines. However, a limited amount of planting of Southern pines, primarily longleaf pine, is planted with containerized seedlings. Proper planning and site preparation is crucial to successfully regenerating the stand. Planting is either done by hand or machine, depending on the conditions of the site. The spacing to be used when planting is dependent on several factors including tree species, expected rotation length, desired products, expected mortality, wildlife considerations, federal or state cost share programs, etc.
The cost of properly carrying out natural regeneration for pine seedlings is not necessarily cheaper than artificial regeneration. Planting costs are usually offset by the cost of pre-commercial thinning for natural regenerated stands. Other deciding factors include genetics (improved seedlings), spacing control, and ease of future thinning harvest operations. Both forms of reforestation require the same level of planning in order to ensure successful regeneration. A professional forester is your best source of information to help determine your reforestation needs. S/he can evaluate your objectives and recommend which harvest methods will lead to successful natural regeneration or if reforestation is desirable through planting or direct seeding. Forests are a long-term investment, an improper start will lead to costly problems in the future; therefore it is essential to provide each new crop with the most favorable conditions possible.
Contact Genesis today if you are interested in planting trees on your property.