Underplanting is a practical silvicultural method for regenerating and diversifying conifer stands in Britain

  25/11/2021    Christel Bourdichon.

Underplanting is a practical silvicultural method for regenerating and diversifying conifer stands in Britain    

REINFFORCE demonstration sites are very good tools to improve knowledge for forestery management: Underplanting method helps regeneration and diversifycation of conifer stands in Britain.

There is a strong policy move in Britain to improve forest resilience to climate change by increasing stand structural and species diversity. Although currently little used in Britain, the technique of underplanting allows regeneration and diversification of stands while avoiding some of the disadvantages of clearfelling. Two experiments were examined: (1) the growth and survival of five underplanted conifer species of differing shade tolerance in a shelterwood and (2) compared performance of underplanted and open-grown Douglas-fir seedlings on restocking sites. Underplanted Sitka spruce, Norway spruce, noble fir, European silver fir and Douglas-fir were all able to survive and grow. However increased exposure following overstorey removal resulted in some damage and ‘socketing’, especially to taller seedlings, particularly Douglas-fir. This may be linked to poor root development when growing under an overstorey. Microclimate conditions on some underplanted sites were more sheltered from extreme climatic conditions, and in some cases this improved survival of Douglas-fir seedlings. However, seedling growth rates were reduced compared with those on open sites probably due to lower light levels. Underplanting may help to improve establishment success of some species, particularly in exposed areas. However, the shelter benefits of underplanting must be carefully balanced against the trade-off with lower light, and underplanting is likely to be more successful where low canopy density is maintained

Victoria Stokes, Gary Kerr, Thomas Connolly Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research, Volume 94, Issue 2, April 2021, Pages 219–231, https://doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpaa027