1: Adapt the forest to the site
Continuous cover forestry (CCF) seeks to work with the site and to respect ecological processes and inherent variation rather than impose artificial uniformity. In practice, this leads to a presumption towards the use of natural regeneration and the development of mixed species and mixed-age stands.
2: Adopt a holistic approach to forest management
CCF regards the whole forest ecosystem as the ‘production capital’ of the forest. This includes the soil, the forest micro-climate, associated fungi, flora and fauna, as well as the trees themselves. Management for timber production is directed towards the creation, maintenance and enhancement of a functioning ecosystem rather than the periodic creation and removal of individual crops of trees.
3: Maintain forest conditions and avoid clearfelling
CCF regards the maintenance of forest conditions as an essential tool in achieving its aims. The use of the overstorey to influence the amount of light reaching the forest floor, to limit ground vegetation, trigger regeneration, and then control its development is crucial. If clear felling takes place, forest conditions are lost, the benefits of shelter reduced, and regeneration becomes more difficult.
4: The growing stock
Under CCF management, stand improvement is concentrated on the development of preferred individuals rather than the creation of a block of stems with uniform spacing and average stem characteristics. The handling of individuals or groups of stems takes place within the context of the whole growing stock of the stand, the size and composition of which is manipulated to achieve the desired rate of regeneration and to produce the required range of timber products. A characteristic of permanently-irregular stands is that yield control is based on measurements of stem-diameter and increment rather than age and area.
Stand structure in Continuous Cover Stands
The Continuous Cover Forestry Group believes that British forests managed in accordance with the above principles will generally develop a permanently-irregular structure at compartment level, over a long period of time.
At this time, however, it is uncertain whether permanently-irregular structures will develop in stands composed entirely of light demanding species or in certain upland forest types. In such cases higher rates of natural disturbance will lead to a mosaic of structures, some of which could involve regeneration gaps of a significant size. The transformation process, i.e. the period when Continuous Cover Forestry principles are applied to even-aged stands, may also involve even-aged elements, either through the use of small-scale clear-fellings or the adoption of shelterwood systems.