BEN # 89

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Sun Jan 15 20:47:29 EST 1995


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No. 89                               January 15, 1995

aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca        Victoria, B.C.
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 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2
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PLENTERUNG, AN AGE-OLD PARADIGM FOR SUSTAINABILITY
From:  Dr. Rudolf W. Becking, Research Consultant, 1415 Virginia
      Way, Arcata, CA 95521-6855. Phone/FAX: (707) 822-1649

[Copyright R.W. Becking. Released with permission of the  author
to  the  users of BEN on Internet. For any questions, additional
information or potential applications of Plenterung contact  the
author directly.]

The  earliest  protocols  regulating  harvest of trees date from
1200-1300 A.D. in Central  Europe.  These  regulations  dictated
tree  harvest  at  specific  locations  in the communal forests,
specified quantities or volumes to be removed  and  the  harvest
times  under  supervision  of an elected official, the forester!
The original harvest method was  selective  or  individual  tree
harvest,  named  Plenterung.  In  medieval times, these communal
forests played a vital role in local rural economies by  supply-
ing  fuel  wood  that  was used daily for cooking meals, heating
homes, and  for  the  manufacturing  and  processing  of  forest
products  and  foods.  The population explosion caused the emer-
gence of commerce, the industrial  revolution  and  urbanization
around  1600.  During  1600--1800, Central Europe was ravaged by
religious and feudal wars resulting in  concentrating  political
powers  in large industrial cities, with a capitalistic economic
control over the  lands  and  their  natural  resources.  Forest
resources   were   rapidly   depleted   and  logging  activities
encroached deep into the valleys and mountains. All the European
forests would have disappeared, except the last remnant  forests
were  saved  by  the  discovery of new energy sources like coal,
oil, gas, and electricity to fuel the industrial plants.

The   remaining   heavily   degraded   forest,   the   so-called
"Mittelwald",  was  an  open forest dominated by a few overstory
trees and a dense  coppice  of  repeatedly-cut  and  resprouting
hardwoods  to  be  used  as  a  fuel wood. The conifers, lacking
sprouting ability, mostly disappeared. The age-old  conservative
Plenterung  system was effectively destroyed. In the 1870's, the
new  science  of  forestry  was  born  in  Germany  and  France,
primarily   to  remedy  these  degraded  forest  wastelands  for
economic reasons. The initial  techniques  were  to  remove  the
entire  Mittelwald  and  start replanting the cleared areas with
conifers, notably Norway spruce (Picea abies), white fir  (Abies
alba), and Scots pine (Pinus silvestris). Thus, even-aged forest
management  was  born,  and  with  it silviculture, mensuration,
forest economics, forest engineering and  forest  genetics.  Im-
provements  were made in thinning and harvesting schedules, soil
amendments, insect and pest controls, and trees  were  projected
as  unsawn planks with $ returns! In spite of vigorous political
control efforts, Plenterung  survived  in  isolated  mountainous
communities of the Alps.

During  the  20th century with an unprecedented world population
explosion, the long-term  global  effects  of  the  capitalistic
even-aged  forest  management  system created international con-
cerns and  controls  about  global  warming,  preserving  global
biodiversity  and  gene pools, threatened or endangered species,
clearcutting tropical and temperate  rainforests,  and  loss  of
top-soil and soil fertility by erosion and monocultures.

Plenterung  emerges  today as an alternative method to even-aged
forest management. Its science was perfected by Adolphe Gurnaud,
Henri Biolley and others around 1875,  but  its  acceptance  and
publication  was severely limited. Plenterung is the only proven
silvicultural system regarding the forest  as  an  ecosystem  in
which  all  its  components closely interact with the site, soil
and climate. Plenterung is also  the  unique  forest  management
system  to  maintain  constantly a dynamic all-aged stand struc-
ture, volume and area controls. Plenterung relies  heavily  upon
local   natural  regeneration,  intensive  100%  inventories  to
monitor stand growth in all size (age) classes every 5-7  years,
and  harvesting  trees only upon complete inventories to control
all its stand  variables.  Individual  trees  are  selected  for
harvest to improve spacing, growth, stand composition, diversity
in  age  and  species, and the maintenance of the top canopy in-
fluence. Plenterung requires a  permanent  intensive  road  net,
with major haul roads and skid roads adapted to directional tree
felling,  no  landings,  and  no  heavy equipment entry into the
stands. All the stand treatments are carried out  simultaneously
every  5-7  years  within the same permanent compartment. Before
any stand treatment, 100% inventories  monitor  the  effects  of
past treatments and adjust to maintain constancy of stand struc-
ture,  volume  and  growth.  Only  the  volume that can be grown
within the harvest intervals may  be  removed.  Stand  treatment
consists  of maintaining a constant stand structure curve cover-
ing the entire range of 2-inch DBH-classes. Harvesting  is  done
on those trees in excess of the desired stand structure over the
entire  DBH  range.  Stand  growth is precisely calculated using
repeated inventories including  stand  ingrowth  and  mortality.
Using  dual  inventories, stand growth can account precisely for
intermediate windstorm or insect losses on a tree-by-tree basis!
Plenterung will automatically  adjust  to  long-term  cumulative
impacts  and  stand  changes  with  its  built-in most intensive
monitoring  of  stand  performance  and  the  significant  stand
parameters.  One  of  the  unique features of Plenterung is that
time is no factor at all in the decision-making or stand invest-
ment. Economically it has proven to be a very stable and  secure
investment  with  steady periodic returns while maintaining full
sustainability! This implies the total abandonment of  even-aged
concepts including clearcutting.

Plenterung  strives  for maintaining natural processes on a com-
partment basis and, by extrapolation over all the  compartments,
on  a  landscape  basis.  Another incalculable advantage is that
niches and natural habitats within the managed compartment  will
be  rotated  among gaps and preserved within the same unit area.
This preserves natural biodiversity and gene pools.

Applications of Plenterung within  the  US  have  been  hampered
because  current  stand conditions in a severely depleted forest
would require a lengthy period of  restoration  and  investment.
Long  time  is  needed to attain a suitable and profitable stand
structure of a mature late seral forest to implement and  manage
for  a  dynamic  and constant multi-storied and all-species/all-
aged stand structure. The current  controversies  over  policies
implementing   the  preservation  of  the  endangered/threatened
species like the Spotted Owl, Marbled Murrelet and Coho  Salmon,
coupled  with the re-enactments of the Clear Air and Clean Water
Acts, may provide a strong impetus to apply and  practice  Plen-
terung  on  a  broad commercial scale, at least on public lands,
within the Pacific Northwest and the Redwood Region of  Califor-
nia.  Elsewhere,  Plenterung  has wide applications. The natural
forest types of the Cascades, Sierra Nevada and Rocky  Mountains
are  ideally  suited  for Plenterung application before they are
clear-cut. The Eastside forests of  ponderosa  pines  and  their
mixtures  in  the  interior of the West are naturally structured
for Plenterung applications. Similarly, the mixed oak  and  con-
ifer  forests  of the eastern United States, including the Smoky
Mountains, have been observed to have a  well  defined  Plenter-
structure  in  their  original state. At the present, Plenterung
remains unknown to many foresters or is misunderstood.



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