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Forest vegetation management has evolved as a recognized component of intensive forest management practice. It involves the management of competing vegetation necessary to obtain the high yields expected in modern forest plantations via control of interfering plants that influence regeneration outcome, impact timber stand development, and limit native plant and wildlife diversity. It includes cultural control, fire control, mechanical control, biological control, and chemical control. The public perception of forest vegetation management, especially chemical control, is sometimes negative due to health and environmental concerns. It is an important tool in the forest management alternatives available to consulting foresters managing family forest lands (the vast majority of private forest land in the United States). We report on a study that addresses the motivations of family forest owners that implement forest vegetation management practices and the motivation of those who chose not to implement after forester recommendations to do so. For those who do implement forest vegetation management, improvement of wildlife habitat and increased timber growth was the main motivation. For those who did not, cost was the main concern. Size of forest holding plays a major role in determining who will practice intensive forestry.
The earliest American forest resource management plans date to the birth of the forestry profession around 1900. For the next half century, these management plans were essentially timber production management plans. Certainly, other forest values, especially watershed protection, were important parts of the planning. But not until the second half of the twentieth century did multiple-use and a wide array of forest values become normal components of a forest management plan. Within the last twenty-five years forest management plans have developed a forest stewardship or sustainable forest management foundation. That is, a forest resource management plan is now expected to consider an entire set of forest values, to have a long-term sustainability focus, and to meet a set of expected management and operational criteria. Often, the forest management plan is the basis of a forest certification scheme. The early forest management plans were primarily timber-based and thus had a commercial or financial focus. Today’s forest management plans are based on multiple forest values and may or may not have a financial focus. We contrast the traditional timber management plan with today’s sustainable forest management plan, realizing the basis of both plans is by definition the forest or the timber. Involving both timber harvesting activities and the operational foundation of the sustainable forest management plan is essentially a timber management plan. One cannot ignore the fact that all forest management plans accomplish silvicultural objectives via manipulation of timber density variables, like stocking and spacing. Management of a forest still involves timber harvests. Our discussion shows that the timber management plan is still very much alive and forms the basis of modern sustainable forest management plans.