Uneven-aged management of longleaf pine forests: a scientist and manager dialogue
Interest in appropriate management approaches for sustaining longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) forests has increased substantially during the recent decade. Although long-leaf pine can be managed using even-aged techniques, interest in uneven-aged methods has grown significantly as a result of concern for sustaining the wide range of ecological values associated with maintaining continuous crown cover in these ecosystems. Indeed, land managers have recently sought to restore and sustain the many habitat attributes upon which numerous at-risk species depend, while simultaneously producing high-quality wood products from longleaf pine forest ecosystems. Although earlier research produced a substantial body of knowledge to guide even-aged management, less is known about application of uneven-aged management methods in longleaf pine forests. Much of this information is yet in the developmental staage. However, managers from the Florida Division of Forestry and Florida National Forests, having a keen interest in applying what is currently known, encouraged scientists of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station and faculty members from the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida to engage in a dialogue that focused on addressing 60 of their key questions concerning uneven-aged management of longleaf pine. This dialogue addresses issues related to (1) methods for converting even-aged to uneven-aged stands, (2) growth and yield, (3) selection harvest techniques, (4) optimum logging practices, (5) effects on red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis), (6) prescribed burning approaches, (7) regeneration, (8) optimum stand structure, (9) competition tolerance and release of various seedling age classes, and (10) the viability of interplanting and underplanting.