Conversion of degraded hardwood forests in France
J. B. Stocks
Treatment of poor hardwood areas for Shelterwood restocking
THE European Forestry Commission's second Study Tour on Applied Silviculture, held in the United Kingdom 20-30 June 1960, was devoted to the subject of converting degraded hardwood and coppice forests in order to increase productivity. Twenty for esters from nine countries studied in the field the work being done in ten different forests in southeast England, visited utilization plants which depend to a large extent on wood from these forests, and compared the methods seen with those used in their own countries.
The problem of conversion of degraded hardwood forests exists in all the participating countries in varying degrees, most extensively in the Mediterranean countries but also in the northern European countries. In general, the proportion of degraded woodlands is greater in private and communally owned forests than in those belonging to the State. The causes of degradation are basically the same in all countries although their order of importance varies: overgrazing, neglected or abandoned farms; changing markets (especially for firewood, pitprops and railway sleepers) and economic conditions leading to silvicultural neglect and to uncontrolled cutting; damage from fire, insects, disease, or wartime conditions.
Bringing back these forests to commercial productivity is an expensive problem. The urgency is provided in most cases by the rising demands of the pulp and paper and other wood-using industries. Conversion can be accomplished by a variety of methods. For example, high forest can be converted under shelterwood or by clear-felling methods. Regeneration can be achieved with original species, but generally a change to introduced species, often in mixture, is used. The choice of species and methods will be determined by a variety of factors including foreseeable market conditions and, of course, soil and climatic conditions. Coppice or coppice with standards may be converted with no extra planting or sowing, by the introduction of seed or transplants of the same or different species into gaps or under shelterwood, or by replanting or sowing after complete clearance in strips, groups, or large blocks. Combinations of several of these methods are often used.
The improvement of degraded hardwood forests is being encouraged by government action in many countries through legislation, technical assistance, and subsidies. The following papers give a picture of the situation in France and the United Kingdom.
A third Study Tour on Applied Silviculture, on the subject of silvicultural practices for farm woodlands, is to be held in Austria in 1961.