FAQ Forest Management

Carefully planned forest management results in a diverse, resilient forest that provides wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and the important resources of wood, water, and air for all living things to thrive.

The primary benefits of periodically removing trees from a preserve or reserve include 1) properly thinned forests promote healthier growth of remaining trees; 2) invasive tree species are removed; 3) the diversity of a stand is able to improve; and 4) the resilience of the stand against treeborne disease improves. Disturbance is not only normal for a forest, it is simply necessary to allow a healthy balance of native and strong species to thrive.


Many stands of trees on LTC owned lands are not in their natural state. When these stands last beyond their human-designed lifespan, there are serious impacts on the overall forest health. Trees become overcrowded and thin as they compete with each other for limited resources. This makes them far more susceptible to drought, insect attacks, and treeborne disease among other health issues. Furthermore, these stands are monocultures. Natural Red Pine dominant stands typically are more widely spaced on average with far more complex with a higher degree of diversity in tree age, size, spacing, species types. These timber stands in contrast are less resilient and provide poorer wildlife habitat as a result of this loss of diversity and overcrowding.

LTC does not harvest trees on its nature preserves.

Protected lands known as working forest reserves are a separate category of land – many which function similarly to nature preserves – at which sustainable harvest may or will occur. 

Little Traverse Conservancy’s working forest reserves are protected lands that may be enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act Program (CFA). CFA designation means the land has or will always be actively managed for timber production.

CFA designation also requires that the land be open to the public for hunting. 

You will see the land respond within the first growing season as new and existing plants grow more quickly with the increased sunlight. Within two to three years, regrowth will largely cover the area that was disturbed by the harvest.

Ecological forestry thinning is one the most widely utilized tools to restore diverse conditions in forests, and maintain their long-term health. This means using tools such as chainsaws to cut down select trees in the unit. Trees that have indicators of low survivability such as signs of disease, poor structure, or drought stress will be the primary targets for removal.

Done properly, ecological thinning increases the survivability and health of the remaining trees, since they will no longer be over competing for resources.[1] This will ensure that the cohort of remaining trees will be the healthiest ones possible and have significantly improved chances to live out their full lifespans, which can be up to 400 years in the case of Red Pines.[2] Sometimes this is referred to as a “thinning from below.” It also allows for a new cohort or Red Pines and other species to begin to grow through a process called regeneration, which will increase size, age, and species diversity in the stand.

[1] Magruder, Matthew, Et Al.

[2] Palik, B. J., Et Al. Page 230


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