In American hardwood forestry, the predominant harvesting method is single-tree selection-not clear-cutting. Foresters choose individual trees for harvest based on a complex array of considerations.
In practice for decades, this harvesting method mirrors the natural process of single trees or small groups of trees dying and falling, or being blown down by localized winds.
A well-planned harvest pays at least as much attention to the trees that will remain as to those that will be removed.
American hardwood forests are not uniform plantations or even-aged, single species mono-cultures. They are instead complex ecosystems that are home to a diversity of tree species of varying ages: sprout, seedling and sapling, mature and aging; dying and decaying.
In a hardwood forest, trees compete for the water and sunlight that come through the forest canopy-the leafy "roof" over the forest floor. Carefully removing individual trees creates openings in that canopy so that more precipitation, sunlight and nutrients reach the forest floor. This type of thinning improves growing conditions. No longer suppressed by larger trees, the seedlings and saplings are free to grow vigorously.