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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1996) 41(2): 27–33
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Research article
Ecological silviculture: The application of age-old methods

Udo Benecke

Historical background, current trends, and forest management systems are presented that utilise the natural features of forests for sustainable wood production. Recent NZ legislation challenges the forestry profession to diversify management systems that can fulfil ecological, economic and social criteria for forests. The case is argued for ecological silviculture with examples of selection systems that maintain continuous forest cover while producing substantial harvestable increment with a high proportion of good-quality sawlogs. The key lies in skilful low-impact harvesting, working with natural regeneration, targeting increment to the best dominant trees, and using the stand canopy for silvicultural self-tending. Research provides forest process information for impacts of indigenous forest management to be kept within limits similar to those found in the natural patterns of forest growth. Much of New Zealand's existing native forest possesses the main structural attributes to practise selection systems for productive, near-natural forestry. New Zealand has great opportunity for natural forest management, especially in its beech forests, to fulfil society's expectations for ecological sustainability. Ecologically-based systems for natural forest will complement plantation forestry.
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