Forest Thinning Benefits & FAQ’s
Why do we thin the Woods?
- Forest thinning is part of the overall Forest Management Plan for the Woods. This plan is available for viewing here.
- Like prescribed burning, thinning is a management tool that promotes forest health, enhances wildlife habitat, and helps reduce the risk of wildfires. These management practices along with their beautiful results are part of the Hitchcock Woods Foundation Vision “To maintain and restore the ecological integrity of the Hitchcock Woods and to serve as a model for sustainable urban forestry, balancing stewardship of forestland natural resources with compatible human uses”.
- Thinning the forest canopy enables sunlight to reach the ground so native plants can flourish; while also reducing competition among remaining and preferred trees for sunlight, water, and nutrients so they can thrive and allow the future forest to develop naturally. Thinning also creates excellent wildlife habitat.
How are trees selected for removal?
- Trees that are unhealthy, infested, damaged, crowded and/or do not belong in a longleaf wiregrass ecosystem are often selected for removal.
Will all the hardwood trees be removed from the Woods?
- No. Not all areas of the Woods are conducive to Longleaf Pine restoration. There are many bottomland areas that are and will remain mixed hardwood forest.
- Unless we are doing a thinning operation, we only remove trees that are infected with insects or fungi, pose a threat to infect other trees, or pose a safety threat to a trail.
- White oaks, red oaks, and post oaks were not marked for removal during our recent thinning. Dogwoods and persimmons were also protected.
Does the Hitchcock Woods Foundation thin the Woods for the purpose of generating revenue?
- What drives our current thinning operations is our management plan for the Woods not the need for revenue, thanks to the generosity of our donors.
- Dollars generated through thinning are invested back into the management of the Woods.
Will the Woods look beautiful once again in the areas that were thinned?
- Initially thinned stands may look disturbed for a period of time. However, with time and proper management, such as prescribed burning, the forest renews itself quickly.
- Remaining debris piles are not permanent and will be addressed at the appropriate time.
- Visit the western section of the Woods to see the results of our 2013 “Longleaf Restoration” thinning operation.
Why do we want to restore the Woods to its historic longleaf pine ecosystem
- Besides aligning with our vision for the Woods, Longleaf pine ecosystems are the most biologically diverse in North America (2nd only to the Amazon!) and provide quality habitat for a variety of plant & wildlife species.
- Longleaf pine ecosystems are highly resilient and referred to as “the trees that built the south” due to the cultural & historic impact they have had on our region.
For more information about the history, management and restoration of the long leaf pine / wiregrass ecosystem, please visit www.longleafalliance.org. You can also view “Longleaf: The Heart of Pine” and “Secrets of the Longleaf Pine” below. We recommend both!