Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Wood Science and Technology
Timber harvests conducted on 90 non-industrial, private forestland properties in West Virginia were investigated to determine the effects that professional foresters have on harvest characteristics and residual stand attributes. Harvests were classified based on the type of forester involved with the harvest: 1) consulting/state service foresters representing landowners, 2) industry foresters (procurement or management) representing forest products firms, and 3) no involvement by a professional forester. Consulting foresters removed less basal area, sawtimber volume, and timber value from the stand compared to the other two groups.;Consulting foresters had less of an impact on quadratic mean diameter and displayed a lower preference for harvesting the more valuable species. Residual stands resulting from consultant harvests were more likely to be fully-stocked, contained higher proportions of basal area in acceptable growing stock and dominant/co-dominant crown classes, and suffered less damage from logging. There were virtually no differences between industry foresters and non-foresters for any of the harvest or residual stand attributes examined.;Each harvest was given an overall evaluation based on a combination of residual stocking level, proportion of the residual stand in acceptable growing stock, and damage to the residual trees. Nearly one-fourth of the consultant harvests received a "good" evaluation, compared to less than 10% of industry forester harvests and no harvests which lacked the involvement of a forester. Less than one-fourth of the consultant harvests received a "poor" evaluation, compared to one-half to two-thirds for the other two groups.;Four post-harvest stands representative of "good" and "poor" harvest practices were projected for 20 years into the future using the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) computer growth and yield model. Twenty years after harvest, tracts subjected to "good" harvesting were projected to contain twice the volume of high-quality sawtimber and nearly three times the volume in acceptable growing stock sawtimber compared to tracts subjected to "poor" harvesting. Both "good" tracts contained more than 7,000 board feet per acre in acceptable growing stock, including more than 4,000 board feet per acre in trees 20" DBH or greater. By contrast, "poor" tracts contained 3,000 board feet per acre or less in acceptable growing stock and contained less than 1,500 board feet per acre in trees 20" DBH or greater. Due to the lack of a sufficient volume of quality sawtimber in the larger DBH classes on tracts subjected to "poor" harvest practices, it will likely be necessary to subject these tracts to poor harvest practices again in the future, in order to carry out a commercial harvest.;"Good" harvest practices also had less impact on the species composition of the post-harvest stand, with most major species retaining dominance in the residual stand. Significant shifts in species composition occurred on tracts subjected to "poor" harvest practices, with less-desirable species replacing some of the more desirable species. These effects were persistent throughout the 20-year projection period.;Simulated "high-grade" harvests were performed in FVS for two tracts subjected to "good" harvest practices. This was done to eliminate differences in initial species composition and timber volume and value between tracts. After adjusting stumpage prices to account for differences in tree quality, average DBH, and harvesting costs, subjecting tracts to "good" harvest practices resulted in three to five times the timber value per acre after 20 years, compared to subjecting these same tracts to "high-grading". Despite this, present value (total of initial harvest value and discounted future timber value) was higher for the "high-grade" scenarios at real discount rates greater than 3%.;"Poor" harvest practices resulted in real internal rates of return (IRR) of 5% and 7%, whereas "good" harvest practices resulted in real IRRs of about 4%. Assuming accelerated growth rates for the "good" tracts, resulting from a higher proportion of dominant/co-dominant trees, real IRR increased to 5%. This is competitive with IRRs from practicing "poor" harvest practices, especially if one takes into account the increased exposure to market risk inherent with "poor" harvest practices.;A post-harvest survey of landowners who participated in this study indicated general satisfaction with harvesting outcomes. Landowners who used a consulting forester were more satisfied with the price they received for their timber compared to those who dealt directly with a logger. Landowners who used a consulting forester were more satisfied with the amount of timber harvested and the overall harvest outcome and were more likely to feel that the harvest met their objectives, compared to landowners who worked with industry foresters. Few serious problems were reported by landowners and these mostly dealt with damage to the residual trees, the condition of roads after harvest, and concerns about the future of their forest.;Landowners' satisfaction was only weakly correlated with the actual physical attributes of the harvest and the residual stand, but some trends were noteworthy. When harvests favored the more valuable species, landowners became less satisfied with logger performance and the overall harvest outcome and were less likely to feel that the harvest met their objectives. As damage to residual trees increased, landowners were less satisfied with both logger performance and the condition of the residual stand and were more likely to report problems with damage to the residual stand. As harvest intensity increased, landowners were less satisfied with the amount of timber harvested, logger performance, condition of the residual trees, and overall harvest outcomes. They were also more likely to report problems with damage to residual trees.;Previous investigations into timber harvesting in Appalachia have suggested that professional foresters have little impact on the type of harvest conducted. This study clarifies that research by demonstrating that the type of forester involved has much more influence on how harvests are conducted than whether or not a forester is involved.
Moss, Stuart A., "The Silvicultural and Economic Impact of Professional Forestry Assistance on Timber Harvests on Non-Industrial, Private Forestland in West Virginia" (2011). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3378.