Structural Diversity

Structural Diversity
How many age classes are represented in the forest? Are there young stands with an abundance of low, vegetative growth along with deep canopies of mature trees? Any standing dead or gnarly old character trees, along with big logs on the ground?

Edge of clearcut in SE corner of CC.

Edge of a recent clearcut with big snag at Clearwater Creek - Naselle, WA

Multiple levels of structural diversity: Young saplings with abundant woody debris in the foreground; mature grove with a complex old-growth snag in the background.

Clearcut opening in NW corner of CC

Small clearcut opening in the mature forest at Clearwater Creek - Naselle WA.

A small clearcut of approx. 5 acres provides lots of "edge" between different forest structures while allowing enough sunlight to penetrate the opening for successful regeneration. Very small openings (an acre or less) have wildlife value but hinder the growth of shade-intolerant species like Doug Fir and Red Alder.

Clearcut in South Side unit #4, looking NW towards the bay

Mixture of "patch" clearcut and selective thinning surrounded by mature forest at Clearwater Creek - Naselle WA.

Different harvesting styles at different times will create the most diverse forest structure, mimicking Nature's own cycle of disturbance. In this case, two forces (Man & Nature) combined in one event in December 2007: sustained hurricane-force winds during harvesting operations.

Eastern Wedge section at CC

Three stages of growth: 6, 20 and 80+ year-old stands at Clearwater Creek - Naselle WA.

Where industrial forestry and wild forestry meet: Douglas fir plantation at the top of the hill gives way to a Red Alder incursion half way down, with a naturally regenerated, mixed species 6 year-old stand in the foreground. Note the established forest on the left, and the individual "leave" trees scattered about to add structural complexity.

Edge of clearcut in SE corner of CC. thumbnail
Clearcut opening in NW corner of CC thumbnail
Clearcut in South Side unit #4, looking NW towards the bay thumbnail
Eastern Wedge section at CC thumbnail