Overstory species composition, structure, and conservation challenges of a mature, natural-origin pine stand after decades of management
This study provides a preliminary assessment of 4 compartments on the Crossett Experimental Forest (CEF) being restored to old-growth-like conditions. After being partially cleared for agriculture or lumbered in the late 1910s, Compartments 1, 2, 11, and 12 were included in a combination of pulpwood-thinning and uneven-aged cutting-cycle studies for the next 50 y. Today, these compartments are overwhelmingly comprised of large Pinus taeda (Loblolly Pine) and Pinus echinata (Shortleaf Pine). A mixture of 22 other species comprise the remainder, primarily in small-diameter stems. Of the 139 ring-counted trees, similarly-sized Shortleaf Pines were significantly older than Loblolly Pines. Current, live-tree oven-dry biomass in Compartments 1, 2, 11, and 12 approaches 200 Mg/ha, or approximately twice that historically reported for old-growth pine. The effects of decades of conventional silviculture, the limited occurrence of fire, and a lack of pine (especially Shortleaf Pine) regeneration are conservation concerns related to this long-term study.