Fuel Treatments & Effects
Forest management objectives continue to evolve as the desires and needs of society change. The practice of silviculture has risen to the challenge by supplying silvicultural methods and systems to produce desired stand and forest structures and compositions to meet these changing objectives. For the most part, the practice of silviculture offers a robust set of procedures well suited for the timely and efficient production of timber crops but too often leaves simplified forests that do not necessarily reflect historical conditions, do not provide a full range of wildlife habitats, nor provide a sense of place for many different forest users. To achieve these and similar objectives we propose a silvicultural system that we call "free selection." This multi-entry, uneven-aged system is intended for use in forests in which the remaining structure and composition is paramount. It is well suited for restoring the old-growth character of forests as well as reducing the risk of wildfire within the urban interface. Rather than using precise stand structural guidelines to define the stand treatments, we suggest that a well articulated "vision" of the immediate and desired future conditions is used to guide the planning and to control the marking. This vision accounts for the interaction of all components of a forest from below ground to the high forest canopy. It relies on an integrated ecological view of how forests function. We have applied free selection guided by such a vision to the dry ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) forests of southern Idaho to restore their old-growth character. We include a 100-year simulation (using the Forest Vegetation Simulator) of free selection and display stand attributes using the Stand Visualization System.