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Current Projects


Improving forest productivity and the efficiency of forest management

Commercial Thinning Research Network

Over the past decade, partial cutting (which involves harvesting only some of the trees from any specific stand) has come to dominate over 95% of the forest harvests in the state of Maine. CFRU researchers and members recognized that a better understanding was needed about how the forest will respond to the various forms of partial cutting taking place across the Maine woods.

In response, the CFRU Commercial Thinning Research Network was established in 2000. The goal of the network, which consists of a fifteen study sites across the state on CFRU member lands, is providing a better understanding about how spruce-fir stands respond to various forms of commercial thinning. Results from the network will be used to improve growth and yield models for Maine's forest. Read more.

Response of Tree Regeneration to Commercial Thinning in Spruce-Fir Stands of Northern Maine: First-Decade Results from the CFRU’s Commercial Thinning Research Network

With thousands of acres in Maine reaching an age and size where commercial thinning will become a viable silvicultural option for foresters it becomes necessary to understand more about how the forest will react to these treatments. This study addresses the area of forest regeneration and will examine what types of seedlings, as well as how many, will begin to grow after a commercial thinning, utilizing the CFRU’s extensive Commercial Thinning Research Network (CTRN). For more information see the report here.

Early Commercial Thinning Harvest Systems: A Silvicultural and Operational Assessment

Results from the CFRU’s Commercial Thinning Research Network (CTRN) have already shown that commercial thinning would benefit thousands of acres in Maine. However, many of the stands on may not yet be commercially viable from an operational standpoint using the harvesting equipment that is commonly available. This study looks at the use of specialized equipment for the purpose of harvesting small diameter stems, like those found on the CTRN sites, and seeks to evaluate the viability of using these pieces of equipment, both from a silvicultural perspective regarding how well the equipment is able to implement the prescription, and an operational perspective, assessing the productivity and cost of the machine. For more information, see the report here.

Assessment of Productivity and Cost for Logging Equipment in Maine’s Forest Industry

The logging industry is characterized as a highly capital intensive business, so effective management of any forest operation must address harvest costs. Accurate machine-level productivity functions and machine rates are needed to make full use of existing harvest system cost models, but up to date productivity functions specific to Maine’s stand characteristics, ground conditions, and harvesting practices are limited. It is also a challenge to estimate machine rates that reflect the true cost of owning and operating logging equipment – especially with respect to repair and maintenance costs. The aim of this study is to develop machine productivity functions and assess the sensitivity of machine rates to changes in key input variables. For more information, see the report here.

Austin Pond Study: Third wave of treatments

The Austin Pond Study, located on land currently owned by Plum Creek Timber Company, was established in 1977 by the CFRU to test the efficacy of seven aerially applied herbicides on conifer release in a regenerating clearcut harvested in 1970. In 1986, each of the original treatment plots was divided in half with one-half receiving PCT. Today, there is an opportunity to extend this study to final rotation by overlaying a series of Commercial Thinning (CT) treatments overtop of the existing design in a “Third Wave“ of silvicultural treatments. Rotation-length measurements from this study on the effects of a wide range of silvicultural options will be invaluable to managers. For more information, see the report here.

Responses of Young Hardwood Stands to Various Levels of Silviculture and Stand Composition

The goal of this project is to refine the prediction of hardwood growth and yield, while incorporating the influence of various intensities of silviculture and species composition. A new set of biomass equations has been developed and was tested against the fit of published biomass equations for common hardwood species in Maine. Additionally, an analysis of the growth and yield of young stands subjected to various intensities of silviculture and species compositional objectives was conducted using the Silviculture and Composition (SIComp) experiment on the Penobscot Experimental Forest. For more information, see the report here.

Residual conditions of fifty partially harvested stands in northern Maine

Amid social and political concern over the use of clearcut harvesting at the end of the last spruce budworm outbreak, the Maine Forest Practices Act was enacted and resulted in sharp reductions of clearcut harvesting. This dramatic shift in harvesting patterns resulted in a steep increase in the number of acres harvested annually to obtain about the same wood volume over the past 30 years or more. With the continued prevalence of partial harvesting practices, there is a strong need to better understand post-harvest stand dynamics. This study focuses developing a better understanding of the silvicultural outcomes associated with partial harvesting in Maine. For more information, see the report here.