A smart person once said: “In a well-spaced forest, trees grow faster.” The wisdom of this phrase was parsed out for us on a recent trip to Sallas Forest on Sidney Island.

Graciously hosted by Peter Pearse, we caught up with Paul Nimmon and his silviculture crew carrying out a juvenile spacing and tree pruning operation.

Because PFLA regularly receives inquiries from forest owners interested in managing their juvenile forest stands, we’ve included a video and some details on the guidelines for the operation we hope you’ll find interesting and informative.

You can watch the video above to hear the hum of the chainsaws, see the stand for yourself, and listen to Paul talk about what they’re up to and why this kind of work is rare these days.

Sallas Forest: Juvenile Spacing and Tree Pruning Guidelines

The owners of Sallas Forest have a clear vision for their forest. In short, the objectives are to promote the forest’s growth and vigour, enhance its biodiversity and encourage aesthetic and recreational values. With this in mind, they laid out the following guidelines for the operation.

Objectives (in order of priority):

  1. Protect and enhance the natural forest ecosystem and, in particular, restore and maintain the biodiversity of the forest.
  2. Stimulate the forest’s growth and vigor.
  3. Enhance the aesthetic qualities of the forest.
  4. Increase the commercial value of the forest

It’s important to note the importance of non-commercial objectives. Special care must be taken to minimize adverse visual impacts.

Priority of trees to be retained (in order):

  1. Old growth trees and snags of all species, including small yew trees, should be retained.
  2. Deciduous trees of all species, providing they have good form, especially oak, arbutus, dogwood, maple, aspen and cottonwood.
  3. All shrubs, notably ocean spray, vine maple, willow and wild rose, unless they are suppressing trees of higher priority (listed above).
  4. In stands dominated by Douglas fir (i.e. most stands on Sidney sland) conifers of other species, most commonly cedar and Grand fir.

Given the above priorities, the individual trees to be retained should be those with the best form and size.

The two photos below, of the same forest type with similar aged trees, illustrate the benefits of juvenile spacing. The stand in the upper photo was spaced and pruned in its juvenile stage; the stand in the lower photo was not.

forest stand on Sidney Island illustrates value of juvenile spacing

Sallas Forest, Sidney Island, B.C.— forest stand spaced and pruned in its juvenile stage.

forest stand Sidney Island BC

Sallas Forest, Sidney Island, B.C.— forest stand not spaced and pruned in its juvenile stage.

Thanks to Peter Pearse for taking the time to show us around. Please stayed tuned for more on our trip to Sallas Forest, as well as “Stand Tending 101: Pruning and Spacing (Part II)” where we share more advice and insights from our favourite resource Managing Your Woodland: A Non-forester’s Guide to Small-scale Forestry in British Columbia.