The effects of partial cutting on species composition, new and residual-tree cohorts, tree size distribution, and tree growth was evaluated on 73 plots in 18 stands throughout southeast Alaska. These partially cut stands were harvested 12-96 years ago, when 16-96% of the former stand basal area was removed. Partial cutting maintained stand structures similar to uncut old-growth stands, and the cutting had no significant effects on tree species composition. The establishment of new-tree cohorts was positively related to the proportion of basal-area cut. The current stand basal area, tree species composition, and stand growth were significantly related to trees left after harvest (p < 0.001). Trees that were 20-80 cm dbh at the time of cutting had the greatest tree-diameter and basal-area growth and contributed the most to stand growth. Diameter growth of Sitka spruce and western hemlock was similar, and the proportion of stand basal-area growth between species was consistent for different cutting intensities. Concerns about changing tree species composition, lack of spruce regeneration, and greatly reduced stand growth and vigor with partial cuts were largely unsubstantiated. Silvicultural systems based on partial cutting can provide rapidly growing trees for timber production while maintaining complex stand structures with mixtures of spruce and hemlock trees similar to oldgrowth stands.
Additional publication details
The effects of partial cutting on stand structure and growth of western hemlock-Sitka spruce stands in southeast Alaska