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Silviculture in an uncertain world: utilizing multi-aged management systems to integrate disturbance


Forest management faces an uncertain future with changing climates and disturbance regimes. Multi-aged forest management systems represent a promising approach for increasing resistance and resilience, thereby limiting major disruptions to timber production and other ecosystem services. Multi-aged stands inherently have greater resistance and resilience to disturbances because of the presence of several age classes and more potential pathways for post-disturbance management and recovery. The preponderance of research also indicates few differences in productivity between multi-aged and even-aged management strategies. These factors combined suggest that increased adoption of multi-aged management systems will lead to a reduction in long-term risks. We advocate a disturbance integration management strategy that encourages managers to emulate disturbance effects with management, anticipate disturbances in planning, integrate the management of residual stand structures into salvage operations and build variable treatment intervals or cutting cycles into management regimes.

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