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Silviculture in Forested Wetlands: Summary of Current Forest Operations, Potential Effects, and Long-Term Experiments

  • W. M. AustEmail author
  • M. C. Bolding
  • S. M. Barrett
Silviculture in Forested Wetlands (by invitation only)


Bottomland hardwoods (BLH) and wet mineral flats (WMF) are common forested wetlands in the southeastern U.S. coastal plain (Virginia to Texas) that are often manipulated silviculturally, yet silvicultural forest operations are infrequently reported. This document summarizes forest operations in wetlands, consolidates reviews of silvicultural effects, and summarizes long-term research. BLH typically receive lower intensity management. Forest operations involve planning silvicultural operations and adapting harvest operations to wet site conditions. Clearcutting with natural regeneration is favored for BLH, but alternative silvicultural systems may be viable options, depending on stand characteristics and landowner objectives. WMF are frequently managed intensively as pine plantations. Following clearcut harvests, WMF may be mechanically and chemically site-prepared and planted. Intermediate silvicultural operations may include chemical competition control, fertilization, prescribed burning, and thinning operations. Reviews of effects in forested wetlands indicate wet-site harvesting can cause significant soil disturbances. Long-term research on effects of harvest disturbances on BLH and WMF are limited, but indicate effects of wet site harvests are ephemeral and sites recover due to natural factors and artificial amelioration. Overall, silvicultural operations in these forested wetlands are compatible with long-term sustainability when appropriate silvicultural systems, forest operations, and forestry best management practices (BMPs) are applied.


Forested wetlands Silviculture Forest operations Harvesting Site preparation 



The long-term research projects discussed in this paper received financial and/or logistical support from the McIntire-Stennis Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA; The USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station; the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement Inc. (NCASI); MeadWestvaco Corporation; Union Camp Corporation; Scott Paper Company; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; International Paper Company; North Carolina State University Hardwood Cooperative; the Virginia Tech Forest Operations and Business Research Cooperative; and the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. M. Aust
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. C. Bolding
    • 3
    • 2
  • S. M. Barrett
    • 4
    • 2
  1. 1.Forest Soils and HydrologyBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forest Resources and Environmental ConservationVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Forest OperationsBlacksburgUSA
  4. 4.Forest Harvesting, and Extension SpecialistBlacksburgUSA

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