Friday, January 18, 2013

Restoration of High Grade Forests

Restoration of
High Grade Forests

Unsuspecting woodland owners selling timber often fall victim to the practice of "high-grading" or cutting the best trees and leaving the rest.  Where this practice has occurred, there generally has been a decline on long term forest health and productivity.  How can woodlands impacted by this practice be restored?  On Thursday, February 14th at the combined meeting of the Dauphin County Woodland Owners Association and the Cumberland Woodland Owners' Association, Dr. James Finley, Penn State Professor of Forest Resources, will speak on the "Restoration of High Grade Forests in Pennsylvania."   The meeting will be held at 7:00 P.M. at the Cumberland County Extension Office which is located at 310 Allen Road in Carlisle.  You do not have to be a member and there is no cost to attend. Directions are available on-line at:

What is high grading?  High grading is harvesting only those trees that will give the highest immediate economic return.   It is also often referred to as select cutting or diameter limit cutting where all trees above a specified diameter are harvested.  Whatever you call it the effect is the same....a decline on long term forest health and productivity.  High grading removes important seed sources and decreases long term income potential.  No concern is shown for the species composition, quality, and density of the remaining forest. 

Cutting the biggest trees might produce a brief financial windfall, but the consequences can last decades. High-grading will increase the time between harvests while decreasing the value of those harvests. The remaining trees are usually not as vigorous, generally more at risk from diseases and insect pests, and more vulnerable to damage from extreme weather. The practice also can reduce the diversity of tree species in a forest, leaving wildlife with a diminished supply of food and shelter.

Pennsylvania's forests are an important renewable natural resource and include some of the nation's most commercially valuable hardwood species.  They are not only a source of aesthetic beauty, but also of economic viability and employment for thousands of residents.  Understanding the benefits our forests provide and taking stock of our forest resources is necessary for ensuring its sustainability for future generations.  To learn more about restoring high grade forests, plan to attend this meeting.

The Cumberland Woodland Owners Association and the Dauphin County Woodland Owners Association are organizations of forestland owners and others interested in forestry issues in south central Pennsylvania.  For more information about the meeting, contact Fred Peabody at 717/776-3565 (email: or Matthew Weir at 717-534-1235 (e-mail

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