Through interviews with landowners with experience in early successional forest habitat management, we learned about a variety of activities undertaken on private lands:
Letting it Be: Letting the natural course of succession of plant species occur in areas, particularly those whose use or structure have changed in the recent past.
Ex: Letting nature take its course in old fields
Ex: Letting nature take its course in past cut areas
Selective Harvest: Counter to practices of ‘high grading’ forests, selective harvests take trees that are removed with the intention of forest betterment, or added benefit to wildlife. Selective harvests typically focus on increasing light penetration to the forest floor for increased understory growth. Selective harvest is focused on increasing the overall quality for the forest.
Ex: Cutting of trees to release oaks
Clear-Cuts/”Browse Cuts”: Clearing small portions of forest to allow regeneration, which creates habitat for American Woodcock, Ruffed Grouse and provides food sources for Wild Turkey, White-tailed Deer and other wildlife.
Ex: Creating forest openings in mixed hardwood stands
Ex: Creating forest openings in old pine plantations
Ex: Cutting to regenerate young aspen
Plantings: Planting new trees in areas either with seedlings or other forms of natural regeneration. Landowners have planted everything from evergreens such as Larch, Spruce and Pine to shrubs such as Viburnums, Dogwood and Common Witchhazel.
Ex: Planting trees and shrubs for wildlife cover
Ex: Planting trees and shrubs for wildlife food
Mowing & Brush-hogging: Keeping field portions cut to maintain early successional plots as such. Succession by nature grows to older trees. Since some wildlife benefit from younger stages of habitat, some landowners mow or brush-hog patches on a rotation.
Ex: Mowing or brush-hogging fields with rotations of 3-5 years to allow for shrublands
Exclosures/Fencing: Closing in ESH plots to avoid pre-mature browse damage from deer.
Ex: Installing tree tubes around young trees vulnerable to animal browsing.
Tree Release/Clearing: Selecting trees of value (for various reasons, ranging from timber harvest to wildlife food) and clearing plant species in close proximity to limit competition for adequate light supplies and nutrients.
Brush Piling: Following harvests or clearings of any kind (i.e. fire wood salvage, timber harvests, brush removal etc.), collecting remaining tree tops or brush and creating piles serves as excellent cover habitat for Eastern Cottontails and rodents of all sorts.
Hinge Cuts/Girdling: Logging cuts that cut partially through standing trees as a means of allowing the tree to fall of ‘natural’ causes while retaining the food source found in its live buds.