The American chestnut and fire: 6-year research resultsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
American chestnut [Castanea dentata Marsh. (Borkh.)] is an iconic species with important ecological and utilitarian values, but was decimated by the mid-20th century by exotic fungal species fromAsia. Successful restoration will require sustainable silvicultural methods to maximize survival and afford chestnut a competitive advantage over natural vegetation. The study examined effects of prescribed burning and commercial tree harvesting on survival and height growth of planted American chestnut on the mid-Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. American chestnuts grew best in patch clearcuts compared to areas that had been commercially thinned. A severe drought during the establishment year probably led to decreased survival and growth rates. However, 6-year survival was highest for trees with smaller ground-line diameter and taller stem heights at the time of planting and in units that had lower levels of percent full sunlight in the first year after planting. Prescribed burning did not affect survival or height growth, but browsing by deer was more common in burned versus unburned areas.