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Dense natural regeneration of Sitka spruce and other conifers is an increasingly common feature of both recently clearfelled sites and stands managed under continuous cover forestry in upland forests of the British Isles. This regeneration can be managed by combining natural self-thinning in the early stages of stand establishment with management intervention to cut access racks and carry out selective respacing to favour the best quality trees. The target density should be about 2000–2500 stems per hectare in young regeneration or on windfirm sites where thinning will take place. On less stable sites that are unlikely to be thinned, a single intervention to a target density of 1750–2000 stems per hectare should improve mean tree diameter without compromising timber quality. Managing natural regeneration in continuous cover forestry or mixed stands can be based upon similar principles, but the growth of the regenerated trees will be more variable.

Respacing naturally regenerating Sitka spruce and other conifers

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Forestry Commission Practice Note 016

Publication type
UKFS Practice Note
Publication owner
Forestry Commission