Saturday, November 13, 2004

Woodlot Management Handbook - Excellent

Finished reading Woodlot Management Handbook by Stewart Hilts and Peter Mitchell. The authors are based in Ontario, involved in teaching and research. The book is 272 pp. for the main text, plus index. The book begins with a Chapter (2) on woodland ecology, that describes the interplay between birds, mammals, plants, the predator and prey, the impacts of certain plants like species of trees on the animals and soils etc. Chapter three is on preparing a woodland inventory. It provides sources of information such as maps and aerial photographs, and how to record the inventory. Chapter 4 is entitled an inventory for Firewood and Timber Production. It gives a summary of the techniques used by foresters to establish an inventory, how to measure trees, characteristics of trees as sources of firewood and timber. Chapter 5 is entitled Environmental Sustainability and Habitat Conservation. This is an interesting chapter describing how to protect wildlife habitats, old-growth forest characteristics, Waterways and wetlands, soils and slopes. It describes the impact of domestic animals such as cows, dogs and cats on the woodland. Feral (domestic and gone wild) Cats are very heavy predators on wildlife. Dogs will chase and kill wildlife especially when operating in packs. Cows trample root systems and compact the soil and thus destroy forests. The chapter then continues by describing methods to enhance wildlife habitats, conserve bio-diversity, and activities to improve people’s awareness of nature. Chapter 6 is about timber and firewood harvest – principles and practices. Now we are getting into the nitty gritty. It talks about thinning or improving cuts. An interesting discussion is provided on even-aged and uneven-aged forests. My forest is quite even aged since all the fields were planted in 1973. The only exceptions are the fencerows where there is a larger diversity of species and age. So the goal is to go towards uneven aged forests, which is more natural and self-maintaining. Chapter 7 about reforestation discusses the reasons for this practice, planting methods. Chapter 8 discusses specialised agro-forestry Options, such as planting windbreaks, various crop trees and making maple syrup. Chapter 9 addresses making trails, dealing with pests and poachers. Chapters 10 through 13 are entitled – Developing your Woodland, Stewardship Plan, Buying Woodland Property, Ensuring Long Term Conservation, and The Spirit of the Woods, respectively. The book concludes with an appendix entitled Getting Help When You Need It.

Overall I find this to be an excellent reference book for anyone who wishes to engage in woodland management. It will give the reader a fairly thorough knowledge, enough to get started and a good overview of the terminology and practices of the forester. At least the reader will be able to know what they are talking about when he hear "snag" is or "stocking" when listening to a professional. There is a very extensive reference section, so one can always dig deeper to find more detail on specific topics.

The Woodlot Management Handbook, Steward Hilts and Peter Mitchell, Firefly Books Ltd. Willowdale ON, Buffalo NY, 1999, ISBN 1-55209-236-4

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