In our previous article, we explored the benefits of natural openings in the forest canopy, such as those created by downed timber and how they can improve wildlife habitat. We also highlighted the process of timber stand improvement practices.
In the realm of deer habitat improvement, Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) or Forest Stand Improvement (FSI) are commonly used terms. However, at Whitetail Partners, we understand that one-size-fits-all approaches may not be effective.
That's why we believe it's crucial to first establish the specific goals and priorities of the landowner, taking into account factors such as climate, forest stands, and desired outcomes for habitat improvement, hunting, timber quality, and more. Only then can we work towards tailored solutions for your property.
Defining Your Goals
By first identifying YOUR goals and priorities for habitat, hunting, timber value, and other focuses as the landowner, you can then work toward solutions for your property. Here are a few questions to develop your vision:
Do you value timber production as a priority? Will it be placed above habitat value? Cull trees are often a topic of discussion for habitat. Cull tree removal is often a great place to start your TSI efforts.
Do you have a good understanding of the differing tree species on your property? Understanding the split of undesirable species of trees to desirable trees such as oak trees may alter your strategy.
Do you have certain cosmetic expectations for your land that will prevent some timber stand improvement practices from being used?
Do you have a short or long time horizon on your habitat and hunting goals?
Do you desire to improve the overall wildlife habitat? While whitetail habitat is certainly in harmony with other wildlife habitats, some methods favor whitetails.
Do you want to completely remove non-native plants and invasive species from your forest floor or monitor and work with them for the positive characteristics they have for deer?
Answering these and other questions will give you the framework for decisions that will come as you make your property plan and determine your desired timber harvest. In most cases landowners will find a balance across these considerations and discover as they improve habitat it will be in harmony with other deer hunting goals and achievable with a couple years of directed TSI practices and hard work.
Once YOU have defined what 'improvement' includes, we can talk about planning, means, and methods - which we will cover in our next article, Forest Inventory - it’s more than tree identification.