Use thinning of forest instead of clearcutting
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Harvesting of timber within forests can be carried out by clearcutting sites or by various methods of harvesting a proportion of trees. By thinning, rather than felling a whole forest, larger areas would need to be managed in order to achieve the same timber harvest though some degree of forest cover can be retained over that area. Thinning forest may benefit some species that prefer an open forest structure whilst not having detrimental effects on forest mammals that clearcutting would be likely to have.
See also Thin trees within forest for where thinning is an intervention in woodland that would otherwise be left without removing trees.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, controlled study in 1965–1968 of pinyon-juniper forest at a site in New Mexico, USA (Kundaeli & Reynolds 1972) found that in areas where trees were thinned, more desert cottontail Sylvilagus auduboni faecal pellets were counted than in fully cleared areas or uncleared areas. Results were not tested for statistical significance. In thinned plots, there were 2.7 cottontail pellets/ft2 compared to 1.0 pellets/ft2 where trees were cleared (uprooted and burned) and 2.4 pellets/ft2 where trees were left unmanaged. In each of two blocks, there was one plot with trees thinned to 100 trees/acre, one with all trees uprooted, piled up and burned and one with trees left unmanaged. Plots covered 300–500 acres each. Treatments were carried out in 1965. Cottontail pellets were counted at randomly selected sample points in treatment plots in 1968.Study and other actions tested