Looking up through the trees

To increase the diversity of woodlands the range of silvicultural systems currently used by managers needs to widen. An objective of the Woodlands for Wales strategy is to reduce the amount of clearfelling and increase the use of Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS).

Silvicultural system guidance

We have produced a Forest Resilience Good Practice Guide on improving the structural diversity of Welsh woodlands.

The guide includes information on the reasons for reducing reliance on clearfelling, setting management objectives, recommended actions for different woodland types, deciding the suitability for LISS management and selection of silvicultural systems.

  • Clear felling. This is the system many are currently most familiar with and in the guidance it is defined as the removal of all trees from an area over two hectares
  • Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS), which include:
    • Minimum intervention no systematic felling or planting of trees
    • Small coupe felling the removal of trees from an area >0.25ha and < 2ha in a larger woodland
    • Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) management where the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels
    • Simple CCF one or two canopy layers of trees, mostly a form of shelterwood system
    • Complex CCF three or more canopy layers of trees
    • Coppice management based on regeneration by re-growth from cut stumps known as coppice stools. The same stool is used through several cycles of cutting and re-growth. Limited use on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate
    • Coppice with standards coppice with a scatter of trees of seedling or coppice origin, grown on a long rotation to produce larger sized timber and to regenerate new seedlings to replace worn out stools. Limited use on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate

Other systems

An additional alternative system described in the guidance is Short rotation forestry (SRF). This involves tree crops that are typically harvested between eight and 20 years of age.

Natural Resources Wales is continuing to support research that will help us provide more information.

If you would like to contact the Sustainable Forest Management Team in Natural Resources Wales you can send your enquiry to sfmt@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

Last updated