Use shelterwood harvest instead of clearcutting

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study in 1985-1993 in temperate coniferous forest in Sweden (Hannerz & Hånell 1997) found that shelterwood harvesting increased plant diversity compared with clearcutting. Plant diversity was higher in shelterwood (Simpson index: 0.48) than in clearcut areas (0.37). Species richness, average height and total cover of plants were similar between shelterwood (species: 5.3/0.25 m2; height: 33 cm; cover: 75%) and clearcut areas (species: 4.2/0.25 m2: height: 34 cm: cover: 65%). In 1985, 2-4 clearcut (all trees removed) plots (40 × 25 m) and 4-8 shelterwood (140-200 trees/ha retained) plots (20 × 25 m) were established in each of four sites. Monitoring was undertaken in 1993 in 24-160 subplots/treatment in each site. Each subplot was 0.5 × 0.5 m.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study in 1974-1992 in temperate coniferous forest in Montana, USA (Shearer & Schmidt 1999) found that shelterwood harvesting increased the density of conifers compared with clearcutting. Density (trees/ha) of conifers >30 cm tall (shelterwood: 19,895; clearcut: 6,834) and total conifer density (shelterwood: 31,389; clearcut: 8,741) were the highest in shelterwood. Three blocks of each treatment, shelterwood and clearcutting, were duplicated in two sites in 1974. Data were collected in 1992 in 80 plots (0.004 ha) in each treatment block.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated, study in 1993-2000 in temperate forest in Sweden (Karlsson & Nilsson 2005) found that shelterwood harvesting increased the density of some tree species and decreased the cover of grasses compared with clearcutting. Density (seedlings/ha) of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris (shelterwood: 18,500-23,000; clearcut: 3,000-6,500) and Norway spruce Picea abies (shelterwood: 17,000-20,000; clearcut: 2,500-3,000) was higher in shelterwood while density of birch Downy birch Betula pubescens and Silver birch B. pendula was similar between treatments (3,500-8,500 seedlings/ha). Cover of grasses (shelterwood: 19-20%; clearcut: 32-35%) was lower in shelterwood while cover of herbs (5-11%) and dwarf-shrubs (12-18%) was similar. In 1993-1995 two shelterwood (cutting 40% of volume) and two clearcut treatment plots (0.4 ha) were established in each of eight sites. Data were collected in 2000.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Agra, H., Schowanek, S., Carmel, Y., Smith, R.K. & Ne’eman, G. (2020) Forest Conservation. Pages 323-366 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Forest Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Forest Conservation
Forest Conservation

Forest Conservation - Published 2016

Forest synopsis

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