Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2015

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Robert S. Seymour

Second Committee Member

Alan S. White

Third Committee Member

Jeffrey Benjamin

Abstract

Recent trends in forest management regimes seek to strike a balance between a multitude of ecologic and economic values at multiple scales. Whether the objectives are traditional (timber production), or contemporary (ecological sustainability), the fundamental, practical question of “how” the forester implements a silvicultural prescription remains relatively unaddressed by research. Forest managers must consider: what good are carefully designed landscape plans and stand-level prescriptions if the treatments are not executed accurately? In northeastern North America, tree marking -- the simple designation of cut or leave trees to implement a given silvicultural prescription -- has declined, in favor of reliance on machine operators to implement written or verbal prescriptions. This study is among the first to explore the costs and benefits of tree-marking in complex mixed-species stands typical of the Acadian region. Specifically, we seek to determine if: 1) investment in tree-marking will accomplish prescription objectives more accurately than relying on equipment operators to implement written or verbal instructions and 2) how tree-marking influences residual stand damage. Logistic regression and ANOVA indicated that tree-marking increased the accuracy of prescription implementation. We suggest that operators had no trouble with quantitative prescriptive items such as basal area (BA) target, or making prescriptive selections that involved clear choices, like rare species and/or large diameter individuals. More qualitative decisions among preferred species were implemented less accurately. Additionally, tree-marking and stand type (mixedwood or hardwood) were found to influence the probability of residual stand damage, perhaps due to the combination of species harvested and operational challenges posed by marking paint. Contrary to expectations, tree marking had absolutely no affect on harvester productivity. Finally, we acknowledge that both improvements in prescription presentation and additional methods learned during the study will assist researchers in future studies of this subject.

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