Environmental Management

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 659–666 | Cite as

Biomass and nutrient removals from commercial thinning and whole-tree clearcutting of central hardwoods

  • Louise M. Tritton
  • C. Wayne Martin
  • James W. Hornbeck
  • Robert S. Pierce


The objective of this research was to evaluate the impacts of increasing product removal on biomass and nutrient content of a central hardwood forest ecosystem. Commercial thinning, currently the most common harvesting practice in southern New England, was compared with whole-tree clearcutting or maximum aboveground utilization. Using a paired-watershed approach, we studied three adjacent, first-order streams in Connecticut. During the winter of 1981–82, one was whole-tree clearcut, one was commercially thinned, and one was designated as the untreated reference. Before treatment, living and dead biomass and soil on the whole-tree clearcut site contained 578 Mg ha−1 organic matter, 5 Mg ha−1 nitrogen, 1 Mg ha−1 phosphorus, 5 Mg ha−1 potassium, 4 Mg ha−1 calcium, and 13 Mg ha−1 magnesium. An estimated 158 Mg ha−1 (27% of total organic matter) were removed during the whole-tree harvest. Calcium appeared to be the nutrient most susceptible to depletion with 13% of total site Ca removed in whole-tree clearcut products. In contrast, only 4% (16 Mg ha−1) of the total organic matter and ⩽2% of the total nutrients were removed from the thinned site. Partial cuts appear to be a reliable management option, in general, for minimizing nutrient depletion and maximizing long-term productivity of central hardwood sites. Additional data are needed to evaluate the long-term impacts of more intensive harvests.

Key words

Organic matter Watershed management Connecticut Forest utilization 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise M. Tritton
    • 1
  • C. Wayne Martin
    • 1
  • James W. Hornbeck
    • 1
  • Robert S. Pierce
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA Forest ServiceNortheastern Forest Experiment StationBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Research Foresters USDA Forest ServiceNortheastern Forest Experiment StationDurhamUSA

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