Silvicultural and economic modeling of even- and uneven-aged management of bottomland hardwood forest in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley

by

Sunil Nepal, Brent R. Frey, and James E. Henderson

Graduate student (SN), Department of Forestry, 775 Stone Blvd, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762; Assistant Professor (BRF), Department of Forestry, 775 Stone Blvd, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762; Associate Extension Professor (JEH), Department of Forestry, 775 Stone Blvd, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762. BRF is corresponding author. To contact, call 662-325-2775 or email brent.frey@msstate.edu.

Abstract – Bottomland hardwood management approaches differ in large degree depending on their objectives, whether focused on timber, wildlife or other values. Today, timber-focused regimes typically apply even-aged forest management aimed at promoting optimal growth of desirable tree species (e.g., red oaks). In contrast, wildlife-focused approaches tend to prioritize structural diversity. For this purpose, managers often gravitate to uneven-aged forest management regimes, which are considered by some to produce better habitat for wildlife. The objectives of this study are to model growth and yield under different silvicultural regimes for the purpose of evaluating the economic tradeoffs of even- and uneven-aged management in bottomland hardwood forests of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. We are using the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) software to predict growth and yield under these different management scenarios. Growth and yield data are being valued using historical timber market data to evaluate potential returns from the different management regimes. Comparative study of these two strategies in terms of the economic return based on timber production value will help managers and landowners to make informed management decisions specific to their stand conditions and management objectives. Knowledge of economic returns from bottomland hardwood forest management will also help landowners and managers choose between even- and uneven-aged management and allow them to understand how much economic gain or loss they would realize by adapting an alternative form of management.